Winnipeg’s King’s Head Pub delivering groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

After shutting off their taps and closing their doors during the COVID-19 outbreak, a longtime Exchange District drinking establishment is getting back to business with a brand new mission.

The King’s Head Pub is getting into the grocery game.

Starting Tuesday the pub will start taking orders for grocery packages through their website, with curbside delivery anywhere in Winnipeg starting Wednesday.

“We had a few conversations with our suppliers and … we decided that we would try to repackage so that we could do more of a grocery-style of service,” explained King’s Head owner, Chris Graves.

“So we’re putting it in packages for families of two or four and we’re doing that with produce as well as protein — it’s like a hamper-style type of service.”

Graves says the food, including fruit and vegetables as well as meats, will be delivered to the pub by his regular suppliers, and then his staff will re-package the items for delivery.

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The whole process will be contactless, he says, with food-grade boxes of food dropped-off and picked-up at by King’s Head staff once an order is placed by phone or online.

Both the produce and protein boxes are portioned out for between five to seven days worth of food, he added.

“It gives me an avenue of being able to keep going, and keep my staff on as well, which is the most important thing,” he said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Oil price plunges to 2002 lows amid global coronavirus shutdown

Oil took another stomach-churning 8 per cent dive on Monday and world shares buckled again as fears mounted that the global coronavirus shutdown could last for months.

There were some bright spots, with Australian equities posting a standout jump as the government launched a super-sized support program and Wall Street futures were fractionally positive, but that was about it.

Japan’s Nikkei had led the rest of Asia lower and Europe’s main markets skidded another 1 per cent, adding to what has already been the region’s worst quarter since 1987.

The rout in oil took crude to its lowest since 2002. Brent slumped to $22.5 a barrel leaving it down 65 per cent for the year and hammering petro currencies such as Russia’s rouble, Mexico’s peso and the Indonesian rupiah by as much as 2 per cent.

It didn’t help that the U.S. dollar was back on the climb. The euro was batted back by about 0.7 per cent, leaving it near $1.1 and sterling went as low as $1.2350 after Britain had become the first major economy to have its credit rating cut because of the coronavirus on Friday.

“I have been in this business almost 30 years and this is the fastest correction I have seen,” Lombard Odier’s Chief Investment Officer Stephane Monier said of this year’s plunge in global markets.

Total global deaths from the coronavirus are around 34,000 and the United States has emerged as the latest epicenter, with more than 143,000 confirmed cases and 2,500 deaths as of the morning of Monday, March 30.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday, March 29 extended his stay-at-home guidelines until the end of April, dropping a hotly criticized plan to get the economy up and running by mid-April after a top medical adviser said more than 100,000 Americans could die from the outbreak.

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Wall Street futures had also back-pedaled, having been up as much as 1 per cent in Asia after a late flutter of optimism.

Australia’s benchmark ASX200 registered a late surge, closing 7 per cent up after Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a $130 billion ($80 billion) package to help to save jobs.

Most other markets were down but trimmed earlier losses. Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1.6 per cent, Shanghai blue chips fell 1 per cent and there were sharper drops in Southeast Asia, with Singapore’ benchmark index down almost 3 per cent.

JPMorgan now predicts that global GDP could contract at a 10.5 per cent annualized rate in the first half of the year.

“We continue to mark down global GDP forecasts as our assessment of both the global pandemic’s reach and the damage related to necessary containment policies,” said JPMorgan economist Bruce Kasman.

As a result, central banks have mounted an all-out effort to bolster activity with rate cuts and massive asset-buying campaigns, which have at least eased liquidity strains in markets.

China on Monday became the latest to add stimulus, with a cut of 20 basis points to a key repo rate, the largest in nearly five years.

Singapore also eased as the city state’s bellwether economy braced for a deep recession while New Zealand’s central bank said it would take corporate debt as collateral for loans.

Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB, said the main question for markets was whether all the stimulus would be enough to help the global economy withstand the shock.

“To answer this question, one needs to know the magnitude of the containment measures and for how long they will be implemented,” he added.

“This is the big unknown and it suggests markets are likely to remain volatile until this uncertainty is resolved.”

Bond investors looked to be bracing for a long haul, with European government bond yields dipping and those at the very short end of the U.S. Treasury curve turning negative. Those on 10-year notes dropped a steep 26 basis points last week and were last standing at 0.64 per cent.

That drop has combined with efforts by the Federal Reserve to pump more U.S. dollars into markets, dragging the currency off recent highs.

Against the yen, the dollar was pinned at 107.99, well off the recent high of 111.71, but its gains against the euro, pound and heavyweight emerging market currencies suggested it was regaining strength.

“Ultimately, we expect the USD will soon reassert itself as one of the strongest currencies,” argued analysts at CBA, noting the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency made it a countercyclical hedge for investors.

“This means the dollar can rise because of the deteriorating global economic outlook, irrespective of the high likelihood the U.S. is also in recession.”

The dollar’s retreat had provided a fillip for gold, but buying stalled as investors were forced to liquidate profitable positions to cover losses elsewhere. The metal was last at $1,613.6 an ounce.

Oil prices have also been hit by a fight for market share between Saudi Arabia and Russia, with neither showing signs of backing down even as global transport restrictions hammer demand.

Brent futures were down 8 per cent, or $2, at $22.50 a barrel – their lowest for 18 years. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell as far as $19.92, near a 2002 low hit this month.

“Central banks have been easing (monetary policy) and governments have been offering stimulus packages, but they are only supportive measures, not radical treatments,” said Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities.

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Going up? Safe elevator etiquette during the coronavirus outbreak

It’s becoming an increasingly ambiguous scenario: the elevator door opens and someone is already inside.

Now, in the face of the novel coronavirus outbreak, do you go in, or do you wait for the next one?

Public health officials have been urging Canadians to maintain physical distance and avoid high-traffic areas since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic weeks ago. But for those living in large cities across the country — especially those in apartment buildings or condo clusters — that can be easier said than done.

“The risk is high in those spaces simply because of the population density,” said Kevin Coombs, an infectious disease researcher and professor of medical microbiology at the University of Manitoba.

“At the same time though, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword — if you have a large cluster of people, and none of them are infected, well then there’s nothing to be transmitted.

“The danger of course, is that we don’t know who is and who isn’t infected because not everyone is getting tested. So it’s always best to be cautious.”

Many residential buildings across the country have been implementing more safety measures since the outbreak was classified a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

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Alberta construction sites allowed to continue with precautions during COVID-19 pandemic

While construction projects, job sites and work camps are legally exempt from Alberta’s COVID-19-related 50-person mass gathering rule, industry leaders said they are still implementing extra safety protocols to stop the spread of the virus and are following advice from Alberta Health.

Bill Black, president and chief operating officer of the Calgary Construction Association, said the organization, along with other industry stakeholders, are taking the health and safety of workers during this pandemic very seriously.

The CCA and other groups recently put together a pandemic planning guide of best practices to be used as a guideline for other construction contractors, Black said.

“If the density of workers got to the point that it was considered contrary to the social distancing recommendations, then the workloads are being adjusted. The number of people on site are being reduced and the prioritization of work is being changed,” Black said.

“When this crisis began to emerge, the safety resources took on the challenge of a new threat and a new issue, and applied their experience and began to compile safety protocols.”

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Black said the “safety-conscious” industry looked at everything, including managing sites, proximity of workers, sanitizing equipment and hand tools, restricting meetings and changing lunchtime procedures.

Several industry workers, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of losing their jobs, raised concerns with Global News about construction sites, like the Calgary Cancer Centre, and questioned whether they were safe.

In a statement, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Infrastructure said all workers are required to work six feet from each other for extended periods of time. It added that the Calgary Cancer Centre site is two million square feet in size and allows for “adequate social distancing.”

“Cleaning products are available and are being used to sanitize lunchrooms. Any staff or workers with any signs of illness or who have traveled recently are required to stay home and self-isolate. The Calgary Cancer Centre project has reviewed their COVID-19 processes and protocols with the government’s Occupational Health & Safety and Environmental Public Health departments,” the statement read.

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London’s deputy mayor offers online civics class for kids stuck at home due to COVID-19

London’s deputy mayor is looking to teach children about the city in which they live as the province’s publicly funded schools face two more weeks of closures amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The lesson will be provided in a Facebook Live on Monday entitled At-Home Civics Class with Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.

“I’m certainly not going to be as interesting or as fun as a John Legend concert, but I thought I’d do something to help the kids learn about what’s going on at the city level of government,” said Helmer, who also serves as city councillor for Ward 4.

Kids will have a chance to have their questions answered by Helmer during Monday morning’s online lesson.

The deputy mayor has already received a number of inquiries prior to the broadcast and told Global News that kids ask some of the toughest questions.

“They’re not so much questions about how does local government work, but they’re questions like: ‘Are you stressed out? How are you doing? What is it like doing your job right now?’” Helmer said.

“Kids have a way of doing that sometimes. They just ask basic questions that get right into the heart of the matter.”

Monday’s broadcast kicks off at 10:30 a.m.

There are no plans for future lessons, but Helmer remains open to the idea, depending on how well the first lesson is received.

“If it’s modestly successful, potentially it might spread to other communities,” he said.

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Canada now has more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Canada reached a grim milestone Friday as the country surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with at least 12 of them fatal.

Three provinces recorded new increases in their totals Friday afternoon: British Columbia reported 77 new cases, while Alberta confirmed 49 more.

Shortly after those two press conferences, Ontario — which had already reported 50 new cases — announced another 10.

That brings the national total to 1,044.

British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta also have the highest provincial totals of COVID-19 cases in the country. B.C. has 348 cases as of Friday, while Ontario has 311 and Alberta has 195. Quebec follows with 139.

All 10 provinces have now confirmed at least one case of coronavirus. None of the three territories have reported any cases as of Friday.

Twelve Canadians repatriated from abroad have also tested positive for COVID-19, contributing to the national total.

There are also several presumptive cases across various provinces that have yet to be confirmed, but are expected to push the national total even further.

Saskatchewan currently has 18 cases awaiting confirmation, while Nova Scotia has 10 presumptive cases. New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have reported four and two presumptive cases, respectively.

Only 18 other countries have surpassed 1,000 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Canada’s new total puts the country past Portugal and Malaysia, which have reported 1,020 and 1,030 cases, respectively.

The rest of those 18 countries are all located in Europe, with the exception of China, Iran, the United States and South Korea.

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Coronavirus: Canadians warned not to stockpile medicine beyond 30-day supply

Canada hasn’t seen any drug shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic yet, but pharmacists are warning that could happen if consumers insist on stockpiling.

Barry Powers of the Canadian Pharmacists Association told Global News there have been reports of Canadians coming into pharmacies and demanding prescription medication orders that last months.

“Pharmacies are reporting that people are coming in and asking for three- or six-month supply when they had just received a three-month supply in the last few weeks,” he explained. 

That’s why Canadian pharmacists are now recommending a 30-day supply of medications for patients unless it is clinically justified.

Powers noted that pharmacies play a key role in managing Canada’s drug supply, which means they can’t offer large quantities to each individual without need. He noted if individuals enter pharmacies demanding larger supplies, that could lead to local shortages — which could lead to broader ones.

While there are no shortages reported in Canada due to the new coronavirus outbreak, Powers said it is something they are watching. 

“We haven’t seen an increase in shortages so far, despite all the concerns around potential disruptions from manufacturers who either source raw materials or the finished product from China,” he said.

Powers said the hope is that China’s COVID-19 outbreak will continue to improve, as it has in recent days, and supplies will not be affected in Canada.

Very few of Canada’s drugs are made domestically, said Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, a hematologist, medical historian and professor emerita at Queen’s University.

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