Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Dec. 20
Quebec brings in new restrictions, as Ontario and Sask. expand access to COVID-19 vaccine booster doses
- Quebec shuts down schools, bars, gyms and more as COVID-19 case counts soar.
- Booster eligibility expands to 18+ across Ontario as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
- Foreign Affairs Minister Joly tests positive for COVID-19.
- A new COVID benefit is now in effect, but no one can access it.
- Where provinces and territories stand on travel restrictions as Omicron concerns rise.
- B.C.'s new public health restrictions come into effect.
- European Medicines Agency grants conditional authorization of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older
Tougher public health measures took effect in Quebec on Monday as the province announced a new single-day record of 4,571 new COVID-19 infections, while Ontario and Saskatchewan expanded access to third doses of vaccine.
As of 5 p.m. ET, Quebec was shutting down schools, bars, gyms and casinos. Restaurants must reduce capacity to 50 per cent, while working from home is being made mandatory again for all non-essential workers.
"The situation is critical. The explosion of cases is overwhelming," said Quebec Health Minister Chirstian Dubé in a news conference, appearing from home.
In neighbouring Ontario, people 18 and older are able to book a COVID-19 vaccine booster through the provincial portal as of Monday, as long as it has been at least three months since getting the second shot.
The province announced last Wednesday that it was expanding eligibility in an effort to bolster defences against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Pharmacies were able to start offering the boosters to younger adults on Friday, but now Ontarians can make appointments through the province's or a local public health unit's website.
Health officials in Ontario on Monday reported 3,784 new cases and no additional deaths. The update came as some struggled to book booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Ottawa, for example, the local public health unit announced early Monday that all available booster appointments were already booked.
The change in booster availability comes after the province tightened up restrictions. As of Sunday, restaurants, retailers, gyms and other indoor settings in Ontario are only allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity. Indoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people, while outdoor gatherings can only have 25.
- Quebec begins gradual distribution of 6.3 million rapid tests Monday
- Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tests positive for COVID-19
- Surge in COVID-19 tests across Ontario delaying other medical test results
- Ottawa retirement home company restricts visitors over rapid test shortage, Omicron fears
Saskatchewan also opened booster shots Monday to eligible residents over the age of 18 and is reducing the time required between second and third doses to three months from five.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 1:30 p.m. ET
What's happening across Canada
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 485 new COVID-19 cases on Monday — the highest daily total the province has seen during the pandemic.