People in Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia will see some COVID-19 restrictions lifted Monday, while students in more than a dozen public health regions in Ontario who had been learning remotely ventured back into the classroom.
Quebec is again allowing non-essential businesses, including personal care businesses like hair salons, to open their doors.
The province, which over the weekend surpassed 10,000 deaths since the pandemic began, will keep a curfew in place — but “red zone” communities will see their curfew start earlier than communities with fewer cases.
Restaurants and theatres will also be allowed to open in “orange zone” communities as of Monday, though those businesses will stay closed to customers in harder-hit areas for now.
Quebec reported 853 new cases on Monday, its lowest daily case total since Oct. 26, as well as 17 new deaths.
After trending down in recent days, hospitalizations saw a slight increase of six to 969, with 160 in intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.
Ontario reported 1,265 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 33 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,538. Hospitalizations in the province decreased to 901, with 335 people listed as being in intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.
The update from health officials on Monday comes after students in several regions of the province returned to in-class learning after starting 2021 remotely. Students in Hamilton and Windsor were among those heading back to school, but in three COVID-19 hot spots — Toronto, Peel Region and York Region — schools will remain closed to in-person learning until Feb. 16.
Premier Doug Ford spoke Monday afternoon about the state of the pandemic in Ontario and how the province plans to handle a gradual reopening process.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia is allowing retail businesses and fitness facilities to operate at 75 per cent capacity. The province, which is loosening restrictions in a range of sectors as of Monday, reported just one new case of COVID-19 on Sunday.
Businesses and organizations holding events like weddings, funerals, sporting matches and festivals in Nova Scotia will be allowed to increase the number of people in attendance, but the number of people allowed to get together informally and inside a home is holding at 10.
Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, could see some additional restrictions after health officials reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Health officials said the cases are tied to three clusters in the greater St. John’s area.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said there is evidence of community spread and urged people to be cautious.
“With community spread in our midst, we need to behave like we did in April,” she said.
Meanwhile, in Alberta, restaurants will be allowed to reopen for in-person dining. Sports and entertainment-related activities can resume in schools, and youth will be able to participate in lessons and practices for team-based minor sports and athletics.
Not every restriction is rolling back, though, as indoor gatherings are still banned, and outdoor get-togethers remain capped at 10.
As of 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 806,389 cases of COVID-19 — with 43,848 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,815.
WATCH | Minister in charge of acquiring Canada’s COVID-19 vaccines says supply delays ‘largely behind us’:
Here’s a look at what’s happening across the country:
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 1:08 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Monday morning, more than 106.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with almost 59.2 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved by Johns Hopkins University, which maintains a case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.
In Africa, South Africa has suspended plans to inoculate its front-line health-care workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small clinical trial suggested that it isn’t effective in preventing mild to moderate illness from the variant dominant in the country.
South Africa received its first one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week and was expected to begin giving jabs to health-care workers in mid-February. The disappointing early results indicate that an inoculation drive using the AstraZeneca vaccine may not be useful.
The trial results, which aren’t yet peer reviewed, suggested the AstraZeneca vaccine “provides minimal protection against mild-moderate COVID-19 infection” among young adults exposed to the South Africa variant.
Oxford University and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg said in a statement that protection against more severe forms of the disease could not be assessed in the trial because those participating were at low risk. The variant appears more infectious and is driving a deadly resurgence, accounting for more than 90 per cent of COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said Sunday night.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea’s daily tally of newly confirmed coronavirus cases has fallen below 300 for the first time in more than two months as authorities slightly ease tough physical distancing rules in the country.
South Korea’s virus caseload has gradually slowed in recent weeks amid stringent physical distancing rules. On Monday, officials began allowing restaurants, coffee shops, indoor gyms and other facilities outside the densely populous Seoul metropolitan region to stay open an hour longer. Authorities say they’ll maintain a ban on social gatherings of five or more people throughout the Lunar New Year holidays.
WATCH | COVID-19 restrictions derail Lunar New Year travel in China:
China appears to have stamped out its latest coronavirus outbreaks centred on the northeast, reporting no new cases of local infection in its latest daily report.
The National Health Commission said Monday that 14 newly confirmed cases had been brought from outside the country but no new cases were registered in the provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin that have seen China’s latest clusters. While China has relaxed some physical distancing rules, extensive testing, electronic monitoring and periodic lockdowns remain in place.
In the Americas, Texas Republican Rep. Ron Wright, who had battled health challenges over the past year including lung cancer treatment, has died more than two weeks after contracting COVID-19, his office said Monday. He was 67.
Wright died Sunday, spokesperson Matt Langston said. He did not know the cause of death but said Wright and his wife, Susan, had been admitted to a Dallas hospital in the previous two weeks after contracting COVID-19.
In Florida, fans — many of them maskless — took to the streets and packed sports bars on Sunday evening as the clock inside Raymond James Stadium ticked down on a hometown Super Bowl win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It is a little frustrating because we have worked so hard,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said during a Monday morning news conference with the Super Bowl Host Committee. “At this point in dealing with COVID-19, there is a level of frustration when you see that.”
Some 200,000 masks were handed out ahead of the game, and “a majority” of people and businesses followed the rules, she said.
To meet coronavirus protocols, the NFL capped the crowd at under 25,000 in a stadium that normally holds some 66,000 fans, and required masks.
But outside the stadium, crowds of fans who weren’t wearing masks or practising social distancing could be seen celebrating Tampa’s 31-9 win over Kansas City on Sunday night. Folks cheered, crammed into bars and hugged in several hotspots around the city — and swarmed the streets — all without masks.
In hopes of curbing so-called super-spreader events, Castor had signed an executive order requiring people wear face coverings during the Super Bowl festivities, even while they’re outdoors. She pleaded with people to celebrate safely.
Florida has recorded 1.7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 28,000 deaths, according to state health records. State officials said Sunday that 667,830 people in Florida had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Chicago schools could gradually start to reopen for in-person learning this week under a tentative agreement with the teachers union on a COVID-19 safety plan.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador returned to his daily morning news conferences following a two-week absence after contracting coronavirus, but vowed not to wear a mask or require them.
Lopez Obrador revealed Monday that he received experimental treatments, which he described as an “antiviral” medication and an anti-inflammatory drug. The president revealed he twice tested negative in rapid tests widely used in Mexico, before a more thorough test — apparently PCR — came back positive.
Lopez Obrador has held the news conferences almost every working day for more than two years, and this was the longest he has been absent from them.
Corpses in Bolivia have begun to pile up as a fierce second wave of the coronavirus has overwhelmed funeral homes and cemeteries, according to officials, stoking fears the growing backlog could become yet another focal point of infection.
The bodies of the dead, wrapped in impromptu Andean alpaca wool blankets and blue plastic bags or even packed into suitcases, have inundated funeral parlours in the capital La Paz, the hardest-hit region of the Andean nation.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates will temporarily only vaccinate residents and citizens who are elderly or who have certain health conditions.
In Europe, schools, shops, hairdressing salons and museums are reopening in Austria after the country’s third lockdown, but concerns linger about infection rates and the spread of new coronavirus variants.
The relaxation of measures taking effect Monday is far from complete. People going to the hairdresser will need to show a negative test result that’s at most 48 hours old. In shops, customers have to wear full protective masks rather than just fabric face coverings. Restaurants and hotels remain closed, and authorities say they won’t reopen this month.
Slovenia will reopen ski resorts and some shops, and has eased restrictions on people entering the country after coming under pressure over its handling of the pandemic.
The Netherlands on Saturday surpassed a million confirmed coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic.
Britain, meanwhile, said it will not introduce COVID-19 vaccine passports, but people will be able to seek proof from their doctor if needed for travel to other countries.
–From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 11:30 a.m. ET