‘My emotions turned to anger’: COVID-19 lockdown once again halts Collingwood gym owner’s opening plans

More than a year ago, Alison Golanski moved to Collingwood with the idea of starting her own business. “That’s when the journey began,” she said.  Her concept is 9 Round Kickboxing, a gym program that sees members rotate through nine different stations every three minutes for a 30-minute workout. However, COVID-19 put that dream on hold several times. “It’s been kind of a nightmare,” she said. Golanski spent the first lockdown building the gym, located at 151 First Street, in hopes that she would be able to open in January. “I was taking my time,” she said. “It worried me, sinking money into something and not knowing was going to happen.” Her plans were again stymied because of a second lockdown in December, when the province enacted a stay-at-home order. Golanski has invested thousands of dollars into the business in rent, utilities and repairs, but she’s not eligible for any government relief. “I can’t get the grants because I wasn’t open last year,” she said. She was excited when the stay-at-home order ended several weeks ago, and looked forward to opening on March 8. “I was working so hard to get open,” she said. However, on March 1, the province, at the request of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, ordered the region into lockdown again, which was lifted a week later. “My emotions just turned to anger. I was just furious. My home that I’m in right […]

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Ontarians ages 60-64 can now book their AstraZeneca vaccine in some regions

Beginning March 12, select pharmacies in Ontario will be administering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to people ages 60 to 64, as part of a vaccine delivery pilot project taking place in certain regions. Premier Doug Ford announced the details on March 10, stating that more than 325 pharmacies, including Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall and independent pharmacies, will be participating in the pilot in the health regions of Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. In a news conference on March 11, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the 60 to 64 age criteria also applies to residents who will be turning 60 or 65 in 2021.  The pharmacies began taking appointments March 10 and eligible residents of the three health units can visit  to book at a location near them. The province has received 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine so far, and has stated plans to extend the pilot to more regions in the near future as additional doses arrive. The current doses have an expiry date of April 2. As well, beginning March 13, certain primary care settings in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Peel will also be offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people ages 60-64. However, in these regions, the primary care facilities will be contacting eligible patients directly. They will not be able to call in and book their own appointment. “We are about to achieve a major milestone in our battle against COVID-1 […]

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AstraZeneca doses on the way, as booking systems falter: Today in COVID-19 vaccine news

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts unfold worldwide, there will inevitably be moments of progress mixed with setbacks. The Star offers a daily look at the “one step forward, one step back,” nature of the road to vaccination. One step forward … AstraZeneca has landed. The third vaccine approved in Canada for use against COVID-19 will soon be doled out. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has notably not yet recommended the vaccine for people over the age of 65. That’s led to provinces plotting their own particular plans for its use. While the provincial vaccination programs largely focus on giving doses to the oldest people first, the NACI position has offered a chance for some creativity in protecting younger people. On Wednesday, Ontario announced that family doctors will be able to give doses of the vaccine to people between the ages of 60 and 64. A total of 194,500 doses are available, and there are more than one million Ontarians in this age category. B.C., meanwhile, has promised to use its AstraZeneca doses for essential workers under the age of 65, and in areas where an outbreak is happening. The province will prioritize northern areas, which have fewer health care resources and recent transmission of the virus. Alberta is offering AstraZeneca shots to 64-year-olds first, and will then offer remaining doses to those ages 50 to 63. … and one step back As the general public starts getting vaccinated, booking appointments have […]

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Website to register for city-run mass vaccination clinics in Toronto launches

Toronto residents 80 years or over can now register to be vaccinated at one of three city-run mass immunization clinics opening Wednesday. People born in 1941 or earlier (people who are turning 80 in 2021 or who are 80 or older now) will be able to attend the three mass vaccination clinics, which will be operating from March 17 to April 11, seven days a week between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Registration is available at , appearing as a dark blue “Register” button in a grey box at the top of the webpage. Booking by phone will start Monday. The phone number has yet to be released. The clinics are located at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre at 255 Front St. W., Scarborough Town Centre at 300 Borough Dr., and the Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Rd. There will be 133,000 vaccination appointments available for first doses. The city estimates there are 136,000 people aged 80 and over living in the city, including 10,000 in long-term-care homes who have already been vaccinated. The city asked that all ineligible people not use the registration portal and that double-booking be avoided. with files from Francine Kopun Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter:

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Ontario’s vaccine plan needs to ensure marginalized groups aren’t left behind: experts

Two senior patients that Dr. Paul Caulford works with in Toronto are currently hiding in a basement apartment after receiving a deportation notice in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The couple has been in Canada since fleeing from Africa in the 1980s, but was never granted legal status. “Now they’re in palliative end-of-life care without access to status and without access to a safe home,” Caulford said, adding their apartment has turned into a miniature long-term-care home of its own, with community workers and volunteers going in and out. The couple is also unable to head to a mass vaccination site to get immunized against COVID-19 without putting their health and security at risk, Caulford added.  Caulford, a volunteer physician, medical lead and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care, represents the centre at two vaccine advisory groups, where he has been advocating for solutions to get the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out to marginalized, hard-to-reach populations. In Scarborough, where he works, this includes the unhoused population; people in encampments, overcrowded housing or basement apartments; undocumented people and people living in crowded motels.  Caulford said while he had no qualms with the approach taken by the province to protect vulnerable groups during Phase 1 of the rollout, it is now moving into the community, where many are not able to access mass vaccination sites. “Th […]

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TDSB’s careful rules for school reopening go beyond what Ontario requires

The Toronto District School Board is taking a more cautious approach toward reopening in the fall than what the province’s guidelines allow, placing firmer limits on student socializing and other gatherings like group singing. At a special meeting Tuesday evening, the TDSB released its safety and health measures for a safe return to classrooms. The province’s guidelines for schools reopening allow for in-person gatherings and for students mingling outside their cohorts during recess or breaks outdoors, but in several ways the Toronto board will be following more stringent procedures than recommended by Ontario’s Ministry of Education. Still, with around three weeks until the term starts in Toronto, protocols around health and physical education, extracurriculars, community use of schools, lunch procedures for secondary students and the use of musical instruments are yet to be outlined. Despite the lack of clarity, families were required to indicate, through an online selection form, with a deadline of Aug. 12, whether their children will attend in-person learning or opt for virtual education. Parents and guardians of of both elementary and secondary students indicated their children would return to in-person learning. TDSB elementary students will continue to take breaks only within cohorts; plans around recess and outdoor breaks for secondary students have yet to be released. Assemblies will remain virtual, unless held outdoors (weather permitting). The min […]

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