Canada to announce easing of some travel restrictions after passing vaccination threshold


The federal government is set to announce Monday the loosening of some border restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents but says “the finish line” won’t come until there are significantly increased vaccination rates in Canada.

The changes to the border restrictions will be limited to a few measures, with all non-essential travel still discouraged, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton in an interview that aired Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.

There would be “changes with respect to the government-assisted hotels, perhaps some implication on who would be subject to quarantine, what it means to be a fully vaccinated traveller and what changes can now be accommodated for those people who are, in fact, fully vaccinated,” Blair said.

Ottawa announced Friday it would be continuing existing restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border for at least another month, until July 21, but that changes would be coming on Monday for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents.

The shift in policy at the border comes as many Canadian provinces have hit key vaccination targets — with more than 75 per cent of eligible Canadians receiving at least one dose, and over 20 per cent receiving two.

The Rainbow Bridge spans the Niagara River and connects Niagara Falls, N.Y., left, to Niagara Falls, Ont. Restrictions on non-essential travel were extended Friday for another month, but some easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents is set to be announced by Ottawa on Monday. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/The Associated Press)

Pressure from both sides of the border

Mayors of Canadian border cities have loudly and frequently called for more clarity from the federal government.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told Barton he believed the extension of restrictions to late July made sense but that better communication is needed.

“So far, all we get is leaks of information. We want to see a clear plan and a crisp plan that’s understandable to Canadians,” he said.

Bradley added that he had long felt fully vaccinated travellers should be able to more easily cross the border but that “it could all go off the rails with the [COVID-19] variant. I hope that doesn’t happen. People are tired, people are cranky. They want to get back to our normal life. And I’m hoping with the double vaccination, that will be the ticket to do so.”

Meanwhile, elected officials in the United States reacted harshly to the news on Friday of the extended border measures.

“I wish there was a more artful way to say this — but this is bullshit,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democratic congressman whose Buffalo, N.Y., district touches the border.

Blair said the government was “working cautiously but steadily toward a phased reopening.”

But the public safety minister warned that Canada wouldn’t reach “the finish line” until about 75 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated.

That’s the number the Public Health Agency of Canada has cited as the point at which major restrictions, such as those on indoor gatherings outside of households, could be safely lifted and at which Blair said more “changes are possible” at the border. He did not specify what those changes would be.

Blair also reiterated that the government was remaining cautious and monitoring the situation around variants of concern when considering changes to border policy. Government officials have said border measures will respond to changing epidemiological circumstances.

“We’re moving toward those targets and we’re making changes, I think, appropriate to the level of vaccination that’s currently in place,” he said.

“We’ve hit an important benchmark, but we haven’t reached the finish line.”

More travellers expected after rule change

Blair told Barton that he expects the changes in rules for fully vaccinated travellers would impact the number of people coming to Canada and that he has been working with PHAC and border services to ensure there was appropriate capacity.

“I’m absolutely certain it’s going to have an impact on traveller volumes,” Blair said, adding that there were likely many Canadians thinking of travelling to the United States to take care of property.

To determine whether travellers returning to Canada are fully vaccinated, Blair reiterated the government was co-ordinating with international partners, including the U.S. and European countries, on a vaccine verification system for international travel.

“We’re working with our global partners, particularly with the United States, in the development of the vaccine certification system that will be very efficient and be able to gain access and utilize appropriately — and with appropriate personal privacy concerns accommodated within it.”

But as an “interim” measure, Blair said the ArriveCAN app — currently in use at the border  — would be modified to enable it to accept vaccine verification documents.

“We believe this app is going to help us accommodate the inevitable increase in traveller volumes,” he said.

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

 



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Politicians in the Philippines are holding raffles to boost vaccination


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Bombay HC asks Centre to look at Kerala, J&K pattern for door-to-door vaccination


The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday said the Union government should look at the door-to-door vaccination programme carried out “successfully” by Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, and take a “sound decision” on its present policy that states door-to-door vaccination was not possible.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni noted that it was unable to understand what the Centre’s problem was in starting door-to-door vaccination when states such as Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir were already carrying out such drives.

 

Responding to a query raised by the court earlier this week, as to how a senior politician got vaccinated at his residence in Mumbai, Anil Sakhare, counsel for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on Friday said the jab was not given by the civic body.

The bench then asked additional government pleader Geeta Shastri, appearing for the Maharashtra government, about who administered the vaccine to the politician. Shastri sought a week’s time to respond.

To this, Chief Justice Datta said, “One week to take information on this? This is alarming. There is an old saying ‘You show me the man and I will show you the rule’.”

 

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking door-to-door vaccination for senior citizens above the age of 75 and persons who are specially abled, wheelchair bound or bed ridden.

The court asked how the Union government policy says door-to-door vaccination was not possible presently, when individual states such as Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir were carrying out the drive.

“How is it that individual states like Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir have introduced and are successfully doing door-to-door vaccination? What is the Centre’s comment on the Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir pattern?” the bench asked.

 

“We are not able to understand what the Centre’s problem was. Why don’t you (Union) communicate with these states and if it appeals to you, then you can ask other states also to start the same drive,” the court said, asking the government to take a “sound decision”.

The court also noted that it was very happy with the good job being done by the BMC during the pandemic and asked why the civic body was hesitant to introduce door-to-door vaccination.

To this, BMC counsel Sakhre pointed out a letter written by civic commissioner Iqbal Chahal to the Centre stating that the civic body was willing to carry out door-to-door vaccination and requested the Union government to provide guidelines for the same.

 

The bench directed Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh to take instructions from the Health Secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the letter and posted the matter for further hearing on June 14.

ASG Singh told the court that the COVID-19 pandemic had a national impact and all states need to work in coordination with the Centre.

“The Centre forms guidelines and it is expected from all state governments that the guidelines are followed,” Singh said, adding that the guidelines for the vaccination drive are updated as per the prevalent situation from time to time.

end-of

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Community vaccination locations opening this weekend


Thank you, Queensland – most of our vaccination centres today are fully booked including Logan Entertainment Centre, Rocklea Showgrounds and Springfield Tower.

Centres that are full will not accommodate walk ins unless it is for priority workers.

Up to 15,000 vaccinations are expected this weekend as community vaccination locations open across the state on Saturday and Sunday.

Queenslanders are reminded that registration is open to aged care and disability workers and people aged 40-49 years old.

People with bookings will take priority and anyone attending a vaccination location this weekend should have an appointment.

To have the opportunity to access these vaccination centres, people must register their interest and they will be invited to make an appointment if appointments are available in their location.

Once people make an appointment, they will receive a QR code via email.

People should bring the following along to their appointment:

  • Booking confirmation
  • Medicare card
  • Photo ID or employee ID (if relevant, for example for an aged care or disability care worker)
  • Information about any medical conditions they have or medications they are taking
  • Information about any vaccines they’ve had in the past 14 days or any previous COVID-19 vaccines they have had including the brand and date it was administered

People should wear a short sleeve shirt and are recommended to have a hat and sunscreen handy and bring a bottle of water.

Below is the current status of locations:

Community vaccination location Capacity status – Saturday Capacity status – Sunday
Logan Entertainment Centre Full Nearing Capacity
Rocklea Showgrounds Full Full
Springfield Tower Full Bookings available
CQU City Campus (Mackay) Half full – bookings available Bookings available
Bundaberg TAFE Bookings available Closed
Hervey Bay TAFE Bookings available Closed
Moreton Bay Integrated Care Centre Full Closed
Cairns Hospital Nearing Capacity Bookings available
Queensland Children’s Hospital Full Closed
Baillie Henderson Hospital Toowoomba Half full Bookings available
Gold Coast University Hospital Nearing Capacity Nearing capacity
Brighton Health Campus Full Closed
STARS (Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation Services) Nearing capacity Closed
Princess Alexandra Hospital Full Full
Sunshine Coast University Hospital Nearing capacity Closed
Ipswich Hospital Cribb House Full Full
Rockhampton Hospital Closed Bookings available

Any walk ins, particularly to many South East Queensland locations, are likely to experience long wait times of several hours.

Townsville Hospital is no longer taking bookings and will accept walk ins both Saturday & Sunday.

No walk ins will be accepted at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

We remind people to be mindful of social distancing while in attendance at these vaccination centres.

If you are aged 50 or over there are a number of ways you can book an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • General Practitioner-led respiratory clinics
  • Selected General Practices
  • Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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Debate for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination can ‘no longer’ be avoided: Reece


Debate for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination can 'no longer' be avoided: Reece

Sky New host Nicholas Reece says we can no longer avoid a debate about making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.

“We … can no longer avoid a debate about making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory,” Mr Reece said.

“At the very least it should be required for healthcare workers and aged care works and people who work in quarantine.

“Its compulsory to wear a seat belt in this country while driving a car, its compulsory to wear a helmet while riding a bike, heck, in Australia its even compulsory to have superannuation.

“So I really don’t see what the big deal is about requiring people to be vaccinated.”

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Bendigo mass vaccination clinic aims to address confusion, fear as Victoria records four new COVID cases


The Bendigo mass vaccination hub is now open, but there is no sign when the clinic will hit its 1,000-people-a-day peak capacity.

Last week the local health authority said Australia was lagging behind other countries in the vaccine rollout, despite increased supply and expanded services.

It led them to do a renewed callout for anyone over 50 to take up the opportunity to get vaccinated, saying they could do more than they currently were.

Monday’s opening coincides with an alert from Victorian health authorities of four news cases in Melbourne’s north, and Bendigo Health chair Bob Cameron said any over 50 should get their AstraZeneca vaccine.

“I want you to think in the UK, they’ve had a lot, a lot of death and 99 per cent of those deaths were people over 50, ” he said.

“We can’t afford to have an outbreak here if you haven’t been vaccinated.

The mass vaccination hub has 40 cubicles and can vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day.

Rob and Kerry Dennis from Bamawm in northern Victoria made the hour’s trip to Bendigo to get their AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We couldn’t get into our local GP because they were booked out until July,” he said.

He said it was the same as an influenza shot, and people just needed to get it done.

Mrs Dennis said Australians must start thinking about each other in the fight against COVID-19. She said she had found the apprehensiveness among her own friends.

“I want to be safe. If I get it, I don’t want to give it to someone else. I would rather see everyone do it, and then the whole county is safe,” she said.

She said Monday’s cases reaffirmed to Victorians they needed to get the vaccine.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards received her vaccination on Monday and said she thought fear and confusion around the federal government’s vaccine rollout was partly to blame for people not getting the vaccine.

“We are nowhere near out of the woods when it comes to this pandemic and everyone still has to be very mindful of social distancing, of good hygiene, of wearing our masks on public transport,” she said.

“The reality is if you don’t get vaccinated, you are at risk of catching COVID-19. So the best outcome for all of us, including yourselves and your family, is to have the vaccination and have it done as soon as possible.”

Bendigo Health passed its 10,000 vaccinations last week.

Mr Cameron said at the time it sounded like a lot, but it was the tip of the iceberg of what was needed.

“I think everybody would have liked to have seen a lot more vials earlier on. We’re, of course, a long way behind where we should be. But we’re now getting there.

“We just want to make sure people continue to turn up.”

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Vaccination experts ready to help


Logan City Council has offered to support Queensland Health in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, if needed.

Council has been providing community immunisation services since 1979.

City of Logan’s immunisation nurses are qualified and accredited to administer some vaccines, including COVID-19 shots, under the provisions of the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996.

Council has submitted an expression of interest to Queensland Health to be included on a panel of potential providers of COVID-19 vaccination services.

City of Logan Mayor Darren Power received his first COVID-19 shot last week.

He qualified to receive an AstraZeneca vaccination under Phase 2a of the Australian Government’s rollout which includes people aged 50 years and over.

Cr Power urged City of Logan residents to check their eligibility to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

“The only way we will win the war against this pandemic is to get as many people vaccinated as soon as it is feasibly possible,” Cr Power said.

“I urge everyone to go to the Queensland Health website and use their simple COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker to learn more about when and where they could get a shot.”

Support for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was discussed at today’s meeting of the Planning, Economic Development and Environment Committee, which is responsible for Council’s immunisation services.

The matter now goes to next Wednesday’s Ordinary Council meeting.

Planning, Economic Development and Environment Chair, Deputy Mayor Jon Raven, said it made sense to consider making available Council’s well-established immunisation services should they be needed at any stage of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

“Our immunisation team already provides valuable year-round services to the community, not just in City of Logan but in other nearby areas as well,” Cr Raven said.

“Many in the community already use these services to get flu shots and other vaccinations.

“If Queensland Health needs any assistance in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, City of Logan is ready to help to the extent we reasonably can.”

For more details on Council’s ongoing vaccination programs, including where to get flu shots, please see Immunisation. 

More information on COVID-19 vaccinations is available on the Queensland Health website  

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Victorians now have a fifth reason to leave home during lockdown — COVID-19 vaccination


The changes coincide with expanded access to the vaccine, meaning that from Friday anyone aged over 40 can access the vaccine in state-run vaccination centres.

In previous lockdowns, the four reasons Victorians had for leaving their homes were exercise, shopping for essentials, essential work, and care or caregiving.

While healthcare was covered by that, the new rules make it clear vaccination will be encouraged while the state locks down to deal with rising numbers of COVID-19.

But announcing the seven-day lockdown on Thursday, Acting Premier Daniel Merlino said this lockdown would be different.

“I can’t stress this enough. The only pathway through the pandemic is for people to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible.”

The number of people allowed to leave their home to get vaccinated will also increased, to allow anyone over 40 to access it.

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In Queensland and eligible for your COVID-19 vaccination? Here’s how to secure an appointment



Some Queenslanders who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine say they are finding it difficult to secure an appointment and the slow uptake has raised concerns over vaccine hesitancy.,With almost a million doses of AstraZeneca being delivered per week to Australia and the country on track to receive 40 million doses of the two-shot Pfizer vaccine by the end of the year — here's what you need to do to get the jab in Queensland.,To be eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine, you need to be over the age of 50. You can check if you're eligible by visiting the federal Department of Health website. ,If you are eligible, type in your postcode and vaccine clinics in your area will be listed.,However, many of those listed come up with “none currently available”.,For example, postcode 4068 in western Brisbane listed one clinic with an appointment in late June.,One clinic said they were supposed to receive 50 doses a week, but delivery had been patchy.,Brisbane's South Bank Respiratory Clinic in Grey Street is a good place to start, as they are receiving at least 3,000 doses a week, but an appointment is necessary.,The easiest way to do that is to book online.,A clinic at Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast had appointments available on a few hours' notice, while one at Chermside in northern Brisbane had some available within the following week.,In Far North Queensland, some doctors in Cairns are listed on the federal government's website, but next to their name it states: “Does not perform COVID-19 vaccine Dose 1”.,Others had appointments available two weeks in the future, with around 10 clinics in the region offering jabs.,Major hospitals on the government website invite you to “make a booking” and someone will be in touch.,Queensland Health said every hospital and health service in Queensland would be provided vaccinations as part of the state's roll out.,This will be provided to adults under the age of 50 through state and territory clinics.,Again, the federal government's website is the best place to start.,But the rollout is patchy at this stage.,If you are under 50 and have an underlying medical condition — such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or chronic inflammatory conditions — you're eligible to be at the front of the queue for the Pfizer vaccine.,But you will need a letter of authority from your GP before you can make an appointment online.,The federal government website states that Pfizer clinics “will continue to be added to the Vaccine Clinic Finder”. ,You are urged to check back regularly.,A 38-year-old arthritis sufferer who contacted the ABC said she had tried for six weeks to access the vaccine and to date had been unsuccessful.,She said timing was critical as she had to go off her medication in between jabs.,Queensland Health said the roll out was “not a race”.,The Queensland government just added pharmacies into the mix in a bid to speed up COVID vaccine delivery.,There is no set time, but in coming weeks up to 56 pharmacies across rural and regional Queensland will begin to administer vaccines, in line with a decision made by National Cabinet.,Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said community pharmacies would play an important role in the ramp up of the vaccine roll out in the second half of the year.,More pharmacies in Queensland will come online as more vaccines are delivered in coming months.,Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has previously said Queensland does not have enough supply of COVID-19 vaccines to meet the demand of a mass vaccination hub.,Ms Palaszczuk said Queenslanders were most likely to get their vaccines from GP clinics and pharmacies, rather than at a purpose-build centre.,”If you're going to have a mass vaccination centre, you need to have a lot of vaccine,” the Premier said.,”You can't have all this demand and not have the supply to meet it.,”The last thing I'd want to see is thousands of people turning up to a centre and not having enough vaccine.”,More vaccine supply is expected for the second half of this year. ,A Pfizer hub is due to open in every hospital and health service across the state by the end of next week.,For all COVID-19 vaccine inquiries and updates, you can also call the national helpline on 1800 020 080.

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Private firms in Indonesia are starting their own vaccination effort


IN TIMES OF hardship, Indonesians turn to each other for help. That is the idea behind gotong royong, or mutual assistance, the Javanese name for a custom in which villagers help build each other’s houses or clean up after a natural disaster. It is therefore unfortunate that the organisers of a private vaccination scheme have borrowed the name. When it launches on May 17th, “Vaksinasi Gotong Royong” (VGR) will inoculate millions of people against covid-19. But rather than encouraging Indonesians to help each other, it encourages the richer ones to help themselves.

When the government kicked off its vaccination drive in January, it pledged to jab 181.5m people, about two-thirds of the population, by the end of the year. The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, known as Kadin, suggested that private companies could help move things along by paying for vaccines procured by the government and inoculating their employees and their families. The idea is to reduce the amount of time it takes for Indonesia to achieve herd immunity and defray the cost of the government’s free vaccination programme. “We have to appreciate that the government is trying its best,” says Shinta Kamdani of Kadin. “But I think they cannot do it alone.”

The government gave Kadin the green light in February. Given that…

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