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Hamilton mall extends hours in anticipation of shoppers from GTA lockdown zones

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2020

Lime Ridge mall in Hamilton will be extending its hours from Tuesday until the end of the year in anticipation of visitors from lockdown zones in the GTA flocking to the area for holiday shopping.

According to a memo issued by owners Cadillac Fairview and obtained by 680 NEWS, the move is to facilitate spreading out traffic in the mall and “allow more time for visitors to shop safely.”

The memo adds that mandatory screenings at entrances will continue everyday and regular hours will go back into effect on Jan. 2.

In a response to an employee’s concerns regarding the new hours obtained by CityNews, a guest services supervisor said the mall will continue to follow all traffic guidelines set forth by public health officials.

They added that the mall has a maximum occupancy of 2,400 and if that number is reached, entrances would be closed and customers would be asked to lineup outside until traffic numbers go down.

In addition they said that property staff regularly walk the mall to remind customers and tenants of the various safety measures in place including physical distancing and masking. Bylaw officers have also been visiting the mall regularly and are happy with their procedures, they said.

Meanwhile, “zone hopping” has become a concern across the province as different regions are in different levels of the province’s reopening framework and residents are driving across zones to shop.

During Black Friday shoppers from lockdown zones in Toronto and Peel regions descended on malls in regions with fewer restrictions leading to huge crowds and lineups.

Adamson BBQ allowed to reopen after owner defied lockdown measures

LUCAS CASALETTO AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2020

Toronto officials have lifted closure orders and granted permission for Adamson Barbecue in Etobicoke to reopen for takeout and delivery, but the establishment must first secure a business licence.

This, after its owner, Adam Skelly, defied lockdown measures and hosted patrons for indoor dining for several days in late November.

On Nov. 26, Skelly was arrested and hit with several charges including mischief and obstructing police after breaking health regulations imposed by the city and the province.

He was granted and subsequently released on $50,000 bail a day later.

In a release issued on Monday, officials said Skelly and Adamson Barbeque remains in violation of the City’s business licence requirements.

City spokesperson Brad Ross told 680 NEWS that the 33-year-old is prohibited from being present at his restaurant and must stay 200 metres from it.

“The lifting of the requirements of the Section 22 order would permit the Adamson Etobicoke location to open for takeout, delivery or drive through only as allowed for under the Lockdown Regulation, subject to compliance with the City of Toronto’s business licensing bylaw and passing a DineSafe inspection,” the city said as part of its release.

“Should that location defy the restraining order and the Lockdown Regulation and open for indoor and/or outdoor dining, the owner, the business, and/or its employees and agents could face contempt of court findings.”

According to the city, the failure to operate without a business licence can result in a maximum penalty of $25,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a corporation.

In early Dec., city officials confirmed that Skelly has never operated under a business licence for his original Leaside restaurant, located at 176 Wicksteed Avenue in East York.

According to York Region’s health inspection records, another location, Adamson Barbecue in Aurora, failed multiple health regulations during its last inspection on Aug. 20 of this year.

Indoor dining has been prohibited in Toronto since Oct. 10 and in-person service on outdoor patios was banned when the city went into lockdown on Nov. 20.

Added: Related:
Added: LIVE outside Adamson BBQ: Adam Skelly demands media leave property

As part of his bail, Skelly must comply with the following orders:

  • Stay 200 metres away from Adamson Barbecue.
  • Not operate or direct any business except in accordance with Ontario’s Reopening Act.
  • No communicating on all social media platforms.
  • Obey the Health Protection Act.
  • Obey orders and law handed down by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams and Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.

“On Dec. 4, the Province of Ontario sought and received a restraining order against Adamson Barbeque, its owner, and other agents, restraining them from contravening the Lockdown Regulation under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA),” the city said.

“The Lockdown Regulation prohibits indoor and outdoor dining. That restraining order remains in place.”

Mayor John Tory supports the municipal licensing and standards order.

“This is a person who has been a repeat offender in this area,” Tory said. “When you’re a repeat offender it is necessary that more severe consequence should follow if you continue to offend.”

“We’re going to be watching this very closely,” he added.

On the day of his arrest, police said Skelly was allowed access to the back section of the restaurant. Skelly and others broke through parts of the drywall to enter the dining area of Adamson Barbecue and damaged the locks placed on the doors.

Officers also arrested 27-year-old Michael Belito Arana of Markham who faces an assortment of charges, including six counts of assaulting police. The Markham man also reportedly spat in an officer’s face and uttered death threats.

Both men have been issued a summons under ‘Failing to Comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.’

Skelly is set for another court appearance on Jan. 4, 2021.

Psychiatrist to be cross-examined by defence at Toronto’s van attack trial

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 14th, 2020

Warning: Details of the trial are graphic in nature, discretion is advised

The prosecution’s final witness in Toronto’s van attack trial will be cross-examined by the defence today.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Scott Woodside says Alek Minassian knew his actions were morally wrong.

Woodside says Minassian’s desire to gain notoriety demonstrates that he knew the attack would be viewed by the public as a despicable act.

The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

CityNews reporter Adrian Ghobrial is covering the trial, follow his tweets below:

The defence argues Minassian should be held not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder.

Minassian’s state of mind is the sole issue at trial since he has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack.

9 total TDSB schools to close until early January due to COVID-19

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Dec 14th, 2020

The Toronto District School Board has announced eight more schools will be closed until early January due to COVID-19 outbreaks, including a pair of East York schools that were set to re-open on Monday for in-class learning.

According to a tweet Sunday afternoon, the TDSB says on the advice of Toronto Public Health, City Adult Learning Centre, Humewood Community School, R.H. McGregor Elementary School, David Lewis Public School and Grenoble Public School will all be closed to students and staff until January 4.

Late Sunday, the TDSB added Oakridge Junior Public School to the list.

According to the TDSB’s COVID-19 advisories website, there are a total of 26 cases in those six schools – 22 among students.

As well, two other East York schools that were set to re-open Monday – Thorncliffe Park Public School and neighbouring Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy – will also remain closed until after the Christmas break, which is set to begin on December 21.

The board says this will give public health officials more time to investigate COVID at the schools.

Toronto Public Health dismissed classes at Thorncliffe Park Public School back on December 3 after asymptomatic testing uncovered a significant outbreak. According to the TDSB, there are 31 active cases of coronavirus among students and two more among staff as of Friday.

Neighbouring Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy – which caters to junior and senior kindergarten students – was closed last week after a number of student cases were discovered. According to the TDSB there are a total of eight cases – none among staff.

Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute will also remain closed until after the Christmas break after 14 students were confirmed to be COVID-19 positive, days before staff and students were to undergo asymptomatic testing. That number at the North York school has since climbed to 18 according to the TDSB.

As of Friday, the TDSB said there were 444 active student cases of coronavirus and 88 active staff cases in its schools with more than 660 resolved cases.

First shipments of COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Dec 14th, 2020

The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement just before 8 p.m. Sunday night on Twitter, noting that while it’s “good news”, the fight against COVID-19 is not over and Canadians must keep up their vigilance.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said some of the 30,000 initial doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will begin to be transported to 14 distribution sites across the country Sunday night, with more crossing the border via plane and truck on Monday.

There are distribution sites in all 10 provinces, but none in the territories because health officials say the Pfizer shot’s -70 C storage temperature make it difficult to stock there.

News of the vaccine’s arrival comes as Canada confirmed 5,891 new cases of the virus on Sunday, pushing the total nationwide past 460,000. Another 81 people have died from the virus, raising the overall death toll to 13,431.

Quebec is expected to be the first province to administer the vaccine, saying it’s prepared to start inoculating residents of two long-term care homes as early as Monday.

Beverly Spanier, a 75-year-old resident of Montreal’s Maimonides Geriatric Centre, calls a miracle.

“We’re celebrating Hanukkah, which is a time of miracles. It’s absolutely a miracle that we’re about to receive this vaccine so quickly,” Spanier, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said in an interview Sunday.

Francine Dupuis, associate CEO of the Montreal regional health agency, said she expects to receive two boxes each containing 975 doses of the vaccine.

She said teams of health-care workers have been ready to administer the vaccines since Friday, but that they don’t know when the shipments will arrive exactly.

“It’s a well-kept secret,” Dupuis said in an interview Sunday morning. “No one knows right now.”

About 90 to 95 percent of eligible Maimonides residents have accepted to take the vaccine, she said. That means between 300 and 350 residents will be inoculated.

Health-care workers at Maimonides will be vaccinated next, and then the remaining doses will go to health-care workers at other long-term care homes, Dupuis said.

She said none of the initial doses would be set aside, as more shipments are expected to arrive to ensure people get their required second shot 21 days later.

“The important thing to remember is that we can’t lose doses,” Dupuis said. “We need to have a scenario where there are enough people who will come so that all the doses are used.”

Spanier said while she is extremely grateful to be receiving the vaccine, she is well aware of the toll COVID-19 has taken on those around her.

“It’s not a time for happy partying because we’re getting this vaccine,” she said on Sunday.

“It’s a time to remember: remember what this means, remember the losses that we had, remember that we want to protect every other person we can protect from getting this disease.”

The other long-term care centre to receive doses is Saint-Antoine in Quebec City, where public health officials said resident Gisele Levesque would be the first to be vaccinated.

Her nieces, in a press release, said Levesque, who moved into the facility just as the pandemic broke out in March, was calm and direct about being No. 1 on the list, saying simply, ‘I was chosen, of course.’”

Other provinces say they’ll vaccinate long-term care residents and front-line health-care workers later in the week.

While it’s unclear what percentage of people will opt to be vaccinated, demand appears to be very high in at least one province.

In Manitoba, which reported 273 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths linked to the virus on Sunday, the government said it received over 100,000 calls from people trying to book appointments for the vaccine.

Only 900 spots are available to receive the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, however, with strict criteria on who is eligible. Half the spots were already filled by Sunday morning, the province said.

Psychiatrist retained by prosecution to continue testimony at Toronto van attack trial

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Dec 11th, 2020

The prosecution’s final witness in the Toronto van attack trial will continue his testimony on Friday.

CityNews reporter Adrian Ghobrial is covering the trial, follow his tweets below:


On Thursday, Dr. Scott Woodside, a forensic psychiatrist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said Alek Minassian told him he believed he would fail in life so he committed the attack that killed 10 people as a way to make his mark in the world.

He said Minassian was particularly worried he would fail at at the job he had lined up for the end of April.

Woodside also testified that Minassian struggled with loneliness and told him that he might have delayed the attack had he been able to finally have a relationship with a woman. That never happened.

The 28-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

The defence argues Minassian should be held not criminally responsible for his actions on April 23, 2018, due to autism spectrum disorder.

Minassian’s state of mind is the sole issue at trial since he has admitted to planning and carrying out the attack.

RELATED: ‘His goal was to be remembered forever:’ psychiatrist says of van attack killer

Minassian has been described by various psychiatrists and psychologists as being highly intelligent with immense social struggles, largely due to autism spectrum disorder.

Woodside said while Minassian never had a relationship with a woman, it wasn’t his sole focus.

Woodside also said Minassian was insightful, which is the opposite picture that has been painted by defence-retained experts at trial.

He said Minassian told him “I don’t think I was mentally ill at the time, to be honest.”

Court has heard that Minassian told various doctors that he long fantasized about school shootings, which helped him work through his anger, especially in high school when he was bullied.

Ontario to provide COVID-19 vaccine rollout update, immunizations start Tuesday

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Dec 11th, 2020

COVID-19 Deaths are expected to increase over the next few weeks and could exceed 25 deaths per day within a month, according to new projections from Ontario health officials. Ontario reported 35 deaths on Thursday.

Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the province, however the percentage of positive tests appear to be flattening.

Based on current projections, if Ontario remains at the status quo for cases, we would stay under 2,000 cases a day through to mid-January.

If there is one per cent growth, the province could hit 2,500 cases per day. In the worst case scenario, at five per cent growth, there could be almost 10,000 cases per day by Jan. 10.

The ICU occupancy is expected to remain above 200 beds for the next month and could go higher if restrictions are relaxed.

There has been an over 90 per cent increase in hospitalizations over the last four weeks and a 165 per cent increase in ICU patients.

Test positivity remains the highest in Peel Region at 11 per cent, followed by York Region and Toronto at six per cent.

Health officials say restrictions first introduced in September up until Nov. 16 has not nearly had as much impact on people’s mobility and contacts as it did during the original March lockdown in Toronto and Peel Region, however mobility data since the current lockdown began in those areas has not been provided by the province.

The original data from the province compared the two lockdowns, but health officials clarified what the mobility data represented during the presentation of the projections.

The mobility numbers were calculated up until Nov. 16 are based on devices leaving their homes. During the initial lockdown in March and April, mobility dropped just over 75 per cent in Toronto and Peel Region to around 40 per cent.

As of Nov. 16, both have hovered around 60 per cent.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said data indicated residents were not heeding calls to cut non-essential travel as much as they did during the province’s first shutdown in the spring.

He said people need to stay home as much as possible, especially as the holidays approach, if Ontario is to be successful in fighting the virus.

“There’s a lot of people out there on the move,” said Williams. “We have got to get that down.”

The reproduction number of the virus is fluctuating around one, which health officials say means we are at a critical juncture where case rates can change quickly.

Contract tracing continues to be an issue in Toronto as 70 per cent of cases have no epidemiological link. The next highest is Peel Region at 28 per cent.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said the virus’ growth rate is fluctuating around one to one and a half per cent, which means that Ontario is at a “critical juncture.”

Even if Ontario limits the growth rate of the virus to zero per cent, the province will still see around 2,000 cases daily by the end of the month. If growth accelerates to five per cent, Ontario will see 10,000 cases a day by the first week of January.

“It’s really important to understand that at this point, where the reproduction number is fluctuating around one, small changes, even just in a little bit of time, can lead to substantial growth,” Brown said.

Williams cautioned that any relaxation of public health measures would likely lead to increased case growth.

He said he will recommend additional restrictions for some regions, which will likely be announced Friday.

“We’re in a very precarious stage here and we have to really watch carefully if we are not going to have to close some things further,” he said.



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