By Mahad Arale and Allison Lampert
TORONTO/MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canada’s two most populous provinces on Friday moved to clamp down further on social gatherings in a bid to slow a second wave of coronavirus cases sweeping across much of the country.
Ontario ordered the closure of bars and restaurants from midnight to 5 a.m. except for takeout and delivery and said strip clubs would have to shut down from Saturday.
Premier Doug Ford, whose government has already slashed the size of permitted gatherings indoor and outdoors, repeated his concerns that the majority of new cases were in people under 40.
“I can tell you I don’t see seniors going into nightclubs too often,” he told a daily briefing.
Health officials in Canada have been making increasingly gloomy comments in recent days. Theresa Tam, the chief medical officer, said on Friday that some local authorities could be overwhelmed unless the wave was curbed.
In Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dube urged residents to cut down on social interactions.
“We’re asking you to make a special effort for the next 28 days,” he told a news conference, saying the government did not want to close bars because people might then attend private parties that are harder to control.
Ontario and Quebec together account for 79% of the 149,094 cases reported in Canada so far and 93% of the 9,249 deaths.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada signed a deal with AstraZeneca PLC to buy up to 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. It is among the leading candidates in the global race for a vaccine.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in an interview that the first doses were due in early 2021, assuming public trials went well.
Canada has now signed deals for a total of around 300 million doses of vaccine candidates from a number of major pharmaceutical firms.
(Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Montreal, writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Alistair Bell)