British Columbia will lift its state of emergency and many of its COVID-19 restrictions as it moves to Step 3 of its reopening plan Thursday.
“We’re turning the dials slowly, but things are a lot brighter today,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, as she made the announcement in Victoria with Premier John Horgan.
Step 3 means that British Columbians can host personal indoor gatherings without a limit on the number of attendees. Large events like weddings will also be permitted, with a maximum of either 50 guests or 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity, whichever is greater.
Recreational travel within Canada will be allowed, and kids can have sleepovers.
Masks will still be recommended but no longer mandatory.
“It’s really important for us to give that agency back to people. And you wear a mask based on your own risk and based on being immunized and being protected, where you protect others through being immunized as well,” Henry said.
The doctor encouraged people to “be compassionate and understand” if others continue to take precautions like wearing masks.
As for any unvaccinated visitors coming to B.C., Henry said: “Our advice to them is, don’t come unless you’re vaccinated.”
Horgan said the announcement paves the way for British Columbians to enjoy the “full flavour … and bounty” of life in their province again.
“We can go and cheer for our kids at the soccer game, in the arena, in the gymnasium. We can go to a friend’s place for dinner. We can plan that wedding. We can go to the theatre. We can go to a concert,” he said.
“We can engage again in what makes life so important. That’s the interaction of people together.”
More than 78 per cent of adults in B.C. have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 30 per cent have been fully immunized. The province recorded 29 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, while its seven-day average fell to 60.9 — its lowest point since August.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:05 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 1,414,707 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,460 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,273. More than 36.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In the Prairies on Tuesday, Saskatchewan officials said there were 52 new cases of COVID-19 and another two people had died.
Manitoba reported 61 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. The provincial government has selected 25 community groups and businesses to receive grants for projects that could help drive up vaccination rates.
In Alberta, top doctor Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 61 new cases and four more deaths due to COVID-19, as she delivered what is expected to be her final regularly scheduled briefing on the pandemic.
In Atlantic Canada on Tuesday, officials in Newfoundland and Labrador said there were no new cases Tuesday.
Prince Edward Island reported one new case of COVID-19. The new case is the only active reported infection in the province.
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Nova Scotia also reported one new case of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. The province’s Premier, Iain Rankin, and top doctor, Robert Strang, are set to provide an update on COVID-19 in the province later in the day.
New Brunswick, meanwhile, reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
In Quebec, where COVID-19 restrictions were further loosened on Monday, health officials on Tuesday reported 71 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.
Ontario on Tuesday reported 299 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional deaths.
In a statement, a provincial spokesperson said that due to a “data review and clean-up,” Tuesday’s numbers include “90 cases from 2020 that have been included in Toronto’s case count.”
“Additionally, 19 deaths from previous months have also been included,” the statement said.
Across the North, there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut on Tuesday. Health officials in the Northwest Territories and Yukon have not yet provided updates for the day. However, health officials in Yukon reported 24 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with the majority in Whitehorse.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:00 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday afternoon, more than 181.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.9 million.
In the Americas, some COVID-19 patients in the United States are being turned away from an overwhelmed hospital in southwestern Missouri amid a surge in cases, while others are being taken to less-stressed hospitals hundreds of miles away. The Springfield News-Leaders quotes CoxHealth system president Steve Edwards as saying Tuesday that the Cox hospital in Springfield is on “COVID diversion” as the delta variant of the coronavirus gains momentum in the region, where large swaths of residents aren’t vaccinated.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte prolonged restrictions on movement and businesses in the capital and nearby provinces until mid-July and retained stricter curbs in central and southern areas, an official said on Tuesday.
Oxygen prices in Indonesia’s capital had more than doubled and some suppliers reported shortages on Tuesday after a surge in COVID-19 cases that prompted the Red Cross to warn of a coronavirus “catastrophe” in Southeast Asia’s biggest country. Indonesia, which like many other countries is dealing with the more transmissible delta variant, has announced record daily COVID-19 infections of more than 20,000 in recent days.
With hospitals filling up in the capital of Jakarta and patients being turned away, some people sought to secure oxygen for infected family members at home. The price for a tank of oxygen had jumped to $140 US from the usual $50 US, suppliers said.
In Europe, Russian authorities have reported 652 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday — the highest daily tally in the pandemic. The new record comes as Russia struggles to cope with a surge in infections and deaths and low vaccine uptake. Although Russia was among the first countries to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine, only about 14 per cent of the population has received at least one shot.
France’s government is urging all nursing home staff in the nation to get vaccinated. It’s sending more vaccine doses to a southwestern region where the delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading fast.
COVID-19 infections in Africa will likely exceed previous peaks within days, underscoring an urgent need to accelerate vaccine supplies and financing to the region, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said.
Tanzania will spend $470 million US buying vaccines and supporting economic sectors hit hard by the coronavirus, President Samia Suluhu Hassan said.
In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, has announced that a wide range of public places will soon be accessible only to those vaccinated against the coronavirus in a bid to encourage more people to get shots.
The Emirati government on Monday said that starting Aug. 20, authorities will begin restricting access to shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, sporting activities, museums, gyms, schools and universities. The unvaccinated will effectively be barred from entering any business in the city except for supermarkets and pharmacies.
Abu Dhabi has already rolled out a “green pass” system that limits public access to those who have either received the shot or can show a negative virus test.
It comes as the country increasingly bets its economic reopening on its speedy vaccination campaign. The government says at least 93 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 6:00 p.m. ET
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