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Relaxing restrictions and the Cargill concern: In The News for May 11

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, May 11th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 11 …

COVID-19 in Canada ….

Some significant steps will be taken today in the slow process of lifting restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Quebec, which accounts for more than half of the country’s novel coronavirus cases, is reopening elementary schools and daycares outside the Montreal area.

Students will be subject to physical distancing and frequent handwashing while school officials follow public health guidelines for cleaning and disinfection.

Attendance, however, is not mandatory, and two school boards have told The Canadian Press that most of their students will be staying home for now.

Quebec is also allowing most retail stores outside Montreal to open today.

Meanwhile, Ontario is allowing non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup today, and is also opening its provincial parks, though with some restrictions.

Alberta is also allowing some retail stores to open this week, while on the other side of the country, Newfoundland and Labrador is allowing some medical procedures to resume today, as well as low-risk activities, such as golf, hunting and fishing. Low-risk businesses, including garden centres, and professional services such as law firms can also reopen.

As of this morning Canada had recorded 68,848 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, including 4,871 deaths and 32,109 cases resolved.

Also this …

MONTREAL — A Cargill meat-processing plant south of Montreal is closing its doors after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The outbreak in Chambly, Que., marks the second time the company has experienced a COVID-19 closure at one of its facilities in Canada.

A spokeswoman for the union representing the workers said the Cargill plant will close temporarily as of Wednesday so all its workers can be tested.

Roxane Larouche said 171 workers were sent home last week as a preventative measure, and 30 of them have tested negative. The testing is expected to last until Friday, and the plant will reopen once there are enough uninfected employees to run it safely.

Cargill said the 64 workers represent 13 per cent of the workforce at the plant. The company said three employees have recovered.

The workplace had implemented safety measures for employees, including installing plexiglass between workers where possible, staggering arrival and departure times and providing masks, visors and safety glasses, Larouche confirmed.

A Cargill beef-packing plant in High River, Alta., reopened last Monday after a two-week shutdown.

More than 900 of 2,000 workers at that plant have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is self-isolating after an aide tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

An administration official says Pence is voluntarily keeping his distance from other people in line with CDC guidance.

The official says Pence has repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 since his exposure but is following the advice of medical officials.

Pence’s move comes on the heels of three members of the White House coronavirus task force placing themselves in quarantine after being exposed to someone at the White House who had the virus.

COVID-19 around the world …

PARIS — The French began leaving their homes and apartments today for the first time in two months without permission slips as the country began cautiously lifting its virus strict lockdown.

In Paris, crowds packed into some subway lines and train stations despite new social distancing rules. Clothing shops, hair salons and real estate agencies were among businesses large and small reopening today, albeit with strict precautions to keep coronavirus at bay.

Teachers were returning to prepare classes to welcome students later in the week, but in limited numbers.

But Health Minister Olivier Veran held out the possibility of a re-confinement if infections rise again.

France is among the countries hardest hit by the virus, with more than 26,000 deaths in hospitals and nursing homes.

COVID-19 in sports …

JACKSONVILLE, Florida — UFC President Dana White wanted a major fight card weeks ago. He was confident his team could pull it off whether it took place on a tribal land, on a private island or in any of the 10 states offering to host it.

Coronavirus testing. Fan-free arena. Social distancing. Self-isolation. White looked at all those unprecedented details that seemed too complex and too risky to some outsiders as merely extra challenges.

But White and the UFC look like the big winners following their big show at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville Saturday night. And UFC 249 could serve as a blueprint for other sports leagues around the U.S. and the world as they start to resume during a global pandemic.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, all of them had to have an eye on how the UFC approached and handled the first major human-centric sporting event in the U.S. since the new coronavirus shuttered much of the country nearly two months ago.

The UFC created a 25-page document to address health and safety protocols, which included disinfecting the octagon between bouts and mandating tests and masks for nearly everyone in attendance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2020

The Canadian Press

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