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Today’s coronavirus news: Toronto businesses brace for little or no business from TIFF; TREB says home sales hit record for August; Ontario will waste more clean electricity this year

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KEY FACTS

  • 7:49 a.m. Thailand reports first local coronavirus case in 100 days

  • 7:48 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues his virtual tour of Canada Thursday

  • 3 a.m. India registers a record single-day spike of 83,883 new cases

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:02 a.m. Walt Disney World will loosen up its no-costumes rule for Magic Kingdom visitors as it moves toward the Halloween season.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 31, all guests can wear their “funniest, Disney-ist, most creative costumes” to the theme park during regular opening hours, according to a post on the official Disney Parks Blog.

Full-blown costume masks will be allowed only for children younger than 14 years old. And all guests will still be required to wear face coverings as they have at Disney World since the resort reopened in mid-July after its coronavirus shutdown.

Disney says Magic Kingdom will be home to a Halloween-themed cavalcade featuring Mickey Mouse and pals and characters in fall attire on the horse-drawn trolley on Main Street USA. The theme park’s orange Halloween decor will be put up.

10 a.m. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says he and his family tested positive for the coronavirus.

Johnson announced their diagnosis in an 11-plus minute video on Instagram on Wednesday. He said he was shocked after hearing their positive tests, calling the ordeal “one of the most challenging and difficult things we’ve ever had to endure.”

The actor said he along with his wife, Lauren Hashian, and two young daughters contracted the virus, but have now recovered. He said his daughters “bounced back” after having sore throats for a couple days.

But for Johnson and his wife, he said they both had a “rough go.”

Johnson said he and his family caught the virus from close family friends, who told him they did not know where they contracted the virus.

Johnson said the ordeal has made him more conscious. He made several suggestions to combat the virus such as wearing a mask, boost your immune system and commit to wellness.

9:38 a.m. The number of laid-off Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to a still-elevated 881,000 last week, evidence that the viral pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs.

The latest figures, released Thursday by the Labor Department, suggest that nearly six months after the eruption of the coronavirus, the economy is still struggling to sustain a recovery and rebuild a job market that was devastated by the recession. In the previous week, more than 1 million had sought jobless aid.

All told, the government said that 13.3 million people are continuing to receive traditional jobless benefits, up from 1.7 million a year ago.

9:32 a.m. The Turkish soccer federation has reversed an earlier decision and now says league games will be played without spectators in the first half of the new season.

The federation had planned to allow stadiums around the country to operate at a maximum of 30 per cent of capacity from October.

The federation says it is heeding the advice of Turkey’s scientific council to keep fans out of stadiums.

The decision comes as the number of daily infections in the country have risen above 1,500 and COVID-19-related deaths have reached their highest since mid-May.

9:24 a.m. Statistics Canada says the country’s merchandise trade deficit was $2.45 billion in July as both imports and exports continued to post strong gains, but remained below pre-pandemic levels.

The result compared with an updated deficit figure of $1.59 billion for June. The agency’s initial estimate for that month had been a deficit of $3.19 billion for the month.

Economists on average had expected a deficit of $2.5 billion for July, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Statistics Canada says the motor vehicles and parts product category helped boost both imports and exports for the month.

Imports for July rose 12.7 per cent to $47.9 billion as imports of motor vehicles and parts increased 50.3 per cent, while exports rose 11.1 per cent to $45.4 billion as exports of motor vehicles and parts increased 37.0 per cent.

Compared with February, the month before the pandemic brought the economy to a near halt, imports were down 4.1 per cent and exports were off 6.0 per cent.

8:51 a.m. The leaders of the two provinces most ravaged by the pandemic will hold a summit next week on boosting their recession-hobbled economies and girding for a second wave of COVID-19.

Premier Doug Ford and Quebec’s Francois Legault and their cabinets will meet in Mississauga next Tuesday and Wednesday.

“As the economic heart of Canada, Ontario and Qubec have often joined forces to create prosperity for the people of our two provinces,” Ford said in a statement Thursday.

“While the path to economic recovery won’t be easy, we don’t have to go it alone. Our provinces must now work together at this critical juncture to help drive the country forward. I look forward to hosting Premier Legault and members of his cabinet to fast-track a shared path to recovery,” he said.

Legault said it is essential for Quebec and Ontario to lead the Canadian recovery.

Read the full story by the Star’s Robert Benzie

8:20 a.m. The confirmed death toll from the coronavirus went over 50,000 in the Middle East on Thursday as the pandemic continues.

That’s according to a count from The Associated Press, based on official numbers offered by health authorities across the region.

Those numbers still may be an undercount, though, as testing in war-torn nations like Libya and Yemen remains extremely limited. The top U.N. official for Libya on Wednesday warned the coronavirus pandemic in the war-ravaged country appears to be “spiraling out of control.” Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who hold parts of the nation, have refused to release virus statistics.

The hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which saw the region’s first major outbreak. Over 21,900 people have died there from the virus, with over 380,000 confirmed cases and 328,000 recoveries.

8:04 a.m. The amount of clean electricity wasted in Ontario is expected to increase significantly this year as a result of the changes in energy consumption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the association representing the province’s engineers.

The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers released an updated analysis today that found Ontario wasted a total of 6.5 terawatt-hours of clean electricity last year, which it says is enough to power 720,000 average-sized homes for a year.

The organization says that’s a 12-per-cent increase in wasted electricity compared with 2018 — and it should go up further this year in light of the pandemic.

It says Ontario’s electricity system is built to support businesses operating between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with a large percentage of homes left idle for at least eight hours a day.

The group says those patterns have “drastically” changed in the last six months, largely due to shifts in workplace and business operations, leading to an “inevitable increase in wasted electricity.”

It says while there have been some periods of peak demand, there remain “many, many hours” where surplus electricity is generated and either wasted or exported at low prices.

That represents a “wasted economic and environmental opportunity,” the association says.

7:49 a.m. A prison inmate in Thailand has tested positive for the coronavirus in the country’s first confirmed locally transmitted case in 100 days, health officials said Thursday.

They identified the inmate as a 37-year-old man arrested for drug abuse who was brought to prison in Bangkok on Aug. 26 and tested positive Wednesday at the prison’s health centre.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday had congratulated the nation for having achieved 100 days without any confirmed local cases of the coronavirus. The last person to test positive was on May 24.

Thailand has sustained relatively light health damage from the pandemic, even though in January it was the first country outside China to confirm a case. But its economy has been devastated by the absence of foreign tourists, who are banned from entry, and by a drop in exports.

7:48 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues his virtual tour of Canada Thursday, with electronic visits to the Atlantic provinces.

He conducted a virtual tour of British Columbia on Wednesday, meeting with Premier John Horgan and consulting with business and environmental leaders about how to ensure a green economic recovery from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

Trudeau is planning to unveil what he promises will be a bold recovery plan in a throne speech re-opening Parliament on Sept. 23. The speech will be put to a confidence vote, which could potentially result in the defeat of Trudeau’s minority Liberal government.

With the possibility of a fall election in mind, Thursday’s Atlantic tour appears to have a more political flavour. Trudeau is to be joined by local Liberal MPs as he visits businesses that have used various federal emergency aid programs to stay afloat during the health crisis.

7:33 a.m. West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek and Leipzig striker Patrik Schick have been quarantined and will miss the Czech Republic’s UEFA Nations League game in Slovakia on Friday.

The team said Thursday that health authorities decided to isolate the two because they were in close contact with a staff member of the national team who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

The two won’t travel with the team to Slovakia for the game in Bratislava despite both testing negative for the coronavirus.

Slavia Prague goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar also left the team at the request of his club as a preventive measure.

It is not immediately clear if the players will be available for Monday’s Nations League game against Scotland in the Czech city of Olomouc.

7 a.m. When the first weeks of September roll around, nearly every inch of Yvonne Yang’s Pistil Flowers shops is typically covered in orders for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Hotels want fresh blooms to greet high-profile guests; production companies and sponsors like to send congratulatory florals to stars of big films; and event planners and restaurants need a touch of nature to brighten up their spaces for everyone flocking to town.

“September’s generally busy because everyone’s back to work and things are happening and then TIFF just drops and it’s usually a lot of last-minute ordering,” said Yang.

“Usually you have to make it work.”

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Yang’s not expecting that this year. TIFF has downsized its slate from the usual 200-plus films to about 50, and while it will offer some in-person screenings and drive-ins, the bulk of the action will be online because Hollywood is staying home and COVID-19 is still lurking.

Read the full story

6 a.m.: The CNE is reporting a loss of $6 million after cancelling this year’s fair due to COVID-19, casting the future of the event into doubt, the executive director said Wednesday.

Unless governments step in to help or the CNE is able to win leasing or licensing concessions from the City of Toronto, it’s possible the historic fair won’t be able to operate past 2021 — and it if can’t open next year due to COVID-19, it may not have a future at all.

“That is a very real possibility,” said executive director Darrell Brown, adding that he doesn’t believe governments won’t step in to save the fair, which has been operating annually since 1879.

Read the exclusive story from Francine Kopun here.

5 a.m.: The pandemic has stretched the usually busy spring real estate season right through the summer with GTA home prices hitting another record last month as the market saw a surge of condo listings, and buyers competing for detached and semi-detached houses.

The average selling price of all home categories — ground level housing and condos — rose 20 per cent year over year in August to $951,404, up $7,738 from July’s average.

Transactions also soared to a record 10,775 sales in August, a 40.3 per cent increase over August 2019, said the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) on Thursday.

Read the full story from Tess Kalinowski here.

4:44 a.m.: A pregnant woman said Thursday she didn’t know she had broken any law when she was handcuffed by police in front of her children in her Australian home and led away in pyjamas for allegedly inciting activists to demonstrate against pandemic lockdown.

Zoe Buhler’s partner helped her livestream the arrest on Wednesday at her home where she lives with two children, aged 3 and 4, in the Victoria state city of Ballarat. The video has been viewed millions of times.

The 28-year-old has since been charged with using social media platforms to incite others to break pandemic restrictions by attending weekend rallies.

Victoria is Australia’s COVID-19 hot spot and its capital Melbourne has been under lockdown restrictions unprecedented in Australia since early August.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 3, 2020:

There are 129,923 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 62,746 confirmed (including 5,764 deaths, 55,515 resolved)

_ Ontario: 42,554 confirmed (including 2,812 deaths, 38,506 resolved)

_ Alberta: 14,180 confirmed (including 242 deaths, 12,535 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 5,952 confirmed (including 209 deaths, 4,605 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,624 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,571 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,244 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 776 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,085 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,014 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 269 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 265 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 192 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 186 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 44 confirmed (including 44 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 129,923 (0 presumptive, 129,923 confirmed including 9,135 deaths, 115,050 resolved)

3 a.m.: India has registered a record single-day spike of 83,883 new cases, driving the country overall tally to 3.85 million. The Health Ministry on Thursday also reported 1,043 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 67,376.

India has been reporting the highest daily increases for more than three weeks. The ministry said the country’s fatality rate had declined to 1.76% and its deaths per million population was “one of the lowest in the world.” Experts say deaths could be substantially undercounted in several states.

3 a.m.: Beijing’s main international airport on Thursday began receiving international flights again from a limited number of countries considered at low risk of coronavirus infection.

Passengers flying in from Cambodia, Greece, Denmark, Thailand, Pakistan, Austria, Canada and Sweden, must have first shown a negative coronavirus test before boarding, city government spokesperson Xu Hejian told reporters.

Passenger arrivals will be limited to roughly 500 per day during a trial period and all will need to undergo additional testing for the virus on arrival, followed by two weeks of quarantine. The first flight under the arrangement, Air China Flight 746, arrived from Pnom Penh, Cambodia, just before 7 a.m.

Wednesday: In planning documents sent last week to public health agencies around the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described preparations for two coronavirus vaccines they refer to simply as Vaccine A and Vaccine B. The technical details of the vaccines, including the time between doses and their storage temperatures, match well with the two vaccines furthest along in clinical tests in the United States, made by Moderna and Pfizer.

Read Wednesday’s rolling file



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New task force to advocate for reopening of York Region businesses

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With input from the business community and regional councillors, York Region Public Health will provide the plan to the premier and chief medical officer of health

A newly formed York Region Public Health task force will create a strategy that will be provided to Premier Doug Ford and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health to advocate for the safe re-opening of businesses ordered to close down to ease the spread of COVID-19.

The task force will review the feedback it has received from the business community and study the measures required to allow businesses, including restaurants and gyms, to safely re-open following the 28-day period of the modified stage 2 that York Region entered on Oct. 19, according to a joint statement issued by York Region chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson and medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji.

“York Regional Council and York Region Public Health remains committed to protecting the health and safety of our 1.2 million residents. At the same time, we cannot ignore the financial and personal impacts these restrictions have on our community, including the economic impact on large, medium and small businesses alike,” they stated.

The early findings of the task force will be shared at a public meeting on york.ca/live Thursday, Nov. 5 beginning at 9 a.m. 

Following the discussion with regional council, public health will finalize the measures businesses need to implement to safely re-open.

The initial 28-day period of modified stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions ends Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m

To help stem the increase of COVID-19 cases, the Ontario government restrictions include the closure of indoor dining and drinking in bars and restaurants, and the closure of gyms, fitness centres, cinemas, performing art and gaming venues.

“The concerns of our residents, our municipalities and our local business community are genuine. By working together and supporting each other we can get through this second wave and continue to build strong, caring and safe communities,” they said.



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Fights in Front of Fans Test Boxing’s Business in the Pandemic Era

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“My brother is the one holding the mitts, but it’s still my dad right there,” Santa Cruz said. “Family always wants the best for you.”

Still, Davis is the fight’s A-side: a fast, elusive power puncher with his own compelling back story. His coach, Calvin Ford, started coaching at a boxing gym in Baltimore after serving a 10-year prison sentence. Davis started training with Ford as a grade-schooler, but the boxer’s circle now includes celebrities like Drake and mentors like Floyd Mayweather.

Normally those story lines, and two aggressive fighters, might combine to support ticket and pay-per-view sales. And Davis’s promoters point to his string of sold-out fights in cities like Baltimore and Carson, Calif., as evidence that they needed to open Saturday’s event to paid spectators.

The difference now is that those fights took place before the pandemic disrupted live sports, and forced limited crowds in the rare instances when they were allowed. San Antonio is in Bexar County, which has averaged 201 new coronavirus cases per day over the past two weeks, about 10 cases per 100,000 residents, but the promoters got approval for thousands of fans anyway.

Davis last fought in December, earning a 12th round technical knockout against Yuriorkis Gamboa, a veteran fighter from Cuba.Since then, live events and industries that require physical gathering, like bars and movie theaters, have struggled amid government restrictions, and the economy has had difficulty rebounding.

And the boxing pay-per-view market was already under pressure. February’s heavyweight rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder attracted a reported 850,000 pay-per-view buys, plus 300,000 more online sales. Those figures more than doubled the reported number of buys for their first fight, but still fell short of the 2 million buys the fight’s co-promoter, Bob Arum, had predicted.

Espinoza acknowledged the pandemic had altered the household budgets of boxing fans. And, he said, restrictions on public gatherings have meant that the usually thriving market for theaters and sports bars has “all but disappeared.” Even a lack of large social gatherings is expected to hurt sales.

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Borèal names new business school dean

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Jean Cotnoir was recently appointed dean of the School of Business and Community Services at Collége Borèal. 

Holding a Bachelor of Education and a specialization in special education, Cotnoir has more than 20 years of experience in the sector. 

Having taught in Pembroke, Blind River, Yellowknife and in Sudbury, he worked as a Program Consultant for the Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario from 2005 to 2010. 

He joined the Collège Boréal team in 2010, where he held several strategic positions, including, since 2014, that of director of marketing and liaison.

In 2018, Cotnoir received a Collège Boréal Award of Excellence for his exceptional commitment to students and to Boréal’s values of excellence, humanism, inclusion, innovation and respect.

A graduate of the Northern Leadership Program, Cotnoir will complete, in December 2020, an Executive Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources, at the University of Fredericton.

Cotnoir’s new duties will include the planning, deployment, and ongoing evaluation of the School of Business and Community Services’ programs. He will also ensure the school’s programs and services meet the high standards of students and industry at all Collège Boréal campuses.

His responsibilities will also include the planning and management of online programs offered through Boréal en ligne (Boréal’s online program offerings), the college’s literacy programs, the Testing Centre, and the Social Innovation Centre for Children and Families.

Cotnoir succeeds Diane Sénécal, who left the college in September for a position at the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick. He will take up his new duties Nov. 2.

“Jean Cotnoir has had long-lasting impacts everywhere his career has taken him,” said Lyne Michaud, vice-president, academic, in a press release.

“We are thrilled that his vast experience in education and his profound knowledge of the post-secondary sector will continue to be of benefit to Collège Boréal as he takes on his new role with the academic team.”

“I am thrilled to be taking on this new challenge and to have the opportunity to serve as dean,” said Cotnoir.

“I am especially looking forward to working even more closely with members of the School of Business and Community Services, to contributing to the student experience, and to supporting the training of future leaders.”

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