Canadians urged to get COVID-19 booster jabs as Omicron concerns grow
The push for Canadians to get their vaccine booster shots is ramping up as the COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads across the country, triggering more pandemic restrictions in some provinces.
Starting Monday in Quebec, all bars, restaurants, retail stores and places of worship will be limited to 50 per cent capacity.
Work parties will be banned, as will dancing and karaoke inside bars, clubs and restaurants.
Premier Francois Legault said yesterday that vaccinations aren't enough to stop the transmission of Omicron as he also reversed a decision to ease indoor gathering limits -- keeping the maximum at 10 people over the holidays.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has reintroduced a 50 per cent crowd limit in venues with a capacity of more than 1,000.
The daily tally of new COVID cases in both Ontario and Quebec has soared well above 2,000, and the latest modelling in the two provinces indicates those numbers are poised to balloon further to historic levels unless urgent action is taken to slow Omicron's spread.
Starting Monday, Saskatchewan is opening booster shots to eligible residents over the age of 18 and is reducing the time required between second and third doses to three months from five.
As the grim toll of deaths from COVID 19 surpassed the sad milestone of 30,000 on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be cautious over the holidays.
"What choices we make as Canadians over the next week or two will determine how bad the rest of our winter is -- how many people we lose, how overwhelmed our hospitals get, how much we're going to take a hit in our economy," he said during a year-end roundtable interview with The Canadian Press.
Meanwhile, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, wrote in an annual report on the state of Canada's public health that the pandemic has exposed long-standing cracks in the system.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2021.