Coronavirus: Manitoba courts prepared for backlog, experimenting with new technology

Manitoba’s court system has made several changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including adjourning several cases and limiting access to the courthouse, but the Chief Justice and Chief Judge say they are doing their best to overcome the obstacles.

Many less urgent cases have been adjourned and jury trials have been cancelled until the end of June.

Chief Justice Glenn D. Joyal said the Court of Queen’s Bench is prioritizing cases in areas including family law, child protection, criminal law and civil litigation.

“In the area of child protection, we obviously want to ensure to the extent that we can we prioritize those motions and applications that need to be prioritized.”

Chief Justice Joyal said he’s also bracing for possible new disputes that may arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and have to be dealt with in a timely manner.

“You may have in some situations a government in good faith passing an important piece of legislation, but that legislation is nonetheless challenged because of the implications for what somebody, a litigate, might think are potential compromises to his or her or other civil liberties,” Chief Justice Joyal said.

The Provincial Court is operating similar to the Court of Queen’s Bench, where non-urgent matters have been adjourned.

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Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe said the urgent cases that are being heard, which include in custody cases and protection orders, are utilizing technology to practice physical distancing.

“We have gone to great lengths to focus on having hearings by video and by telephone appearances,” she said.

“Many counsel are not coming to the courthouse. We are having clerks text them before their matter comes up so that they do know their matter is appearing; they can call into telephone lines which have been put into each of the courtrooms.

“We are focusing on video, we are not transporting people unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Given the number of matters that have been adjourned, Chief Judge Wiebe estimates it could take up to a year and a half for the Provincial Court to catch up once the pandemic is over.

“I think it’s going to be difficult for us to catch up with the volume, particularly that we have in this court, any sooner than 18 months or so,” she said.

“That is a guess; maybe we can do it faster.”

Chief Justice Joyal is aiming to catch up in the summer months, if the spread of COVID-19 levels off in Manitoba by then.

Cases can also be thrown out if a judge finds the defendant’s constitutional right to a timely trial had been violated under the Jordan decision.

“I can’t telegraph or anticipate what court rulings will be,” Chief Justice Joyal said. “The Jordan case also, I think, allows for contextualization of situations and circumstances and this is a circumstance like no other.”

Going forward, Chief Justice Joyal is hoping to gain valuable lessons from this experience which has forced unprecedented changes on the court system. He said the court system could carry on with some of the technology introduced during the pandemic, while balancing public access.

“We’re learning in different areas how we might not only improve the system in good times, but how we can maybe anticipate and guard against inconvenience in bad times.”

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Coronavirus will ‘change the world’ and Brussels will NOT survive, predicts French MP

“The health crisis we are all living through is one of major severity and scope,” M Bayrou, president of the Mouvement Démocrate (MoDem) party and mayor of the south-western city of Pau, told newspaper Le Figaro. He said: “The risk of social explosion is real. No crisis comes without major shake-ups or violence. But this tragedy will change our view of the world.

“We have learned that we are all ultimately one humanity threatened by a single epidemic, and that our method of organisation has made us weaker.”

The post-coronavirus period will be “very long,” M Bayrou continued, adding the pandemic would trigger an “unprecedented economic, social, and maybe even democratic crisis.”  

“A new world must emerge from this enormous upheaval,” he said, as he stressed the importance of solidarity between European states in times of crisis.

The Brussels bloc “will not survive this crisis without solidarity,” the French centrist noted.  

His comments echoed those made by France’s European Affairs Minister Amélie de Montchalin later on Sunday, who said that the EU’s response to the outbreak would determine its credibility and utility.

“If Europe is just a single market when times are good, then it has no sense,” Mme de Montchalin told France Inter radio.
 
“Our Europe is one of action, one of solidarity, and if certain countries see otherwise, well then the question of their place will raise itself, as will what the union should be doing as a group of 27,” she continued. “The crisis raises existential questions for Europe.”

The EU has so far failed to agree on measures to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic.

The bloc’s divisions were exposed after leaders hit an impasse on Thursday over how to minimise the economic damage and prepare for an eventual recovery, with the poorer south angered by the reluctance of the richer north to offer more support.

Germany and the Netherlands strongly opposed a push by Italy, Spain, Portugal and France to issue joint ‘corona’ bonds to help finance an economic stimulus. They also locked horns over the sharing of medical equipment and border controls.

Mme de Montchalin, for her part, warned there would be no economic rebound in Germany and the Netherlands if the rest of Europe remained sick.

However, she cited a decision by Germany and others to take in seriously ill French coronavirus patients and relieve pressure on France’s healthcare system as proof that solidarity between EU states still exists.

Europe is the continent worst hit by the epidemic that arrived from China earlier this year, with more than 20,000 deaths.

Over 738,500 people have been infected across more than 170 countries and regions and about 35,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally published on Monday. 

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Coronavirus: Girl, 12, becomes youngest known person to die in Europe

A 12-year-old Belgian girl has become the youngest known person in Europe to die after contracting coronavirus.

Authorities in Belgium said the child was by far the youngest among the country’s more than 700 victims.

National crisis centre spokesman Emmanuel Andre said it is “an emotionally difficult moment, because it involves a child, and it has also upset the medical and scientific community”.

He added: “We are thinking of her family and friends. It is an event that is very rare, but one which upsets us greatly.”

It is not yet known if the girl had underlying health conditions.

Mr Andre said 98 people had died with the infection over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 705 in a country of around 11.5 million people.

More than 12,705 cases have been confirmed so far in Belgium.

He said that Belgian authorities expect the spread of the disease to reach its peak in the next few days.

“We will arrive at a point where we’re close to saturation point at our hospitals,” he said.

Before the 12-year-old girl’s death, the youngest person in Europe to die after contracting the highly contagious respiratory infection was believed to be Vitor Godhino, a 14-year-old boy from Porto in Portugal.

In the UK, the youngest person to die was an 18-year-old who had serious underlying health issues.

On Tuesday, Spain recorded the 849 new coronavirus deaths – the highest number since the pandemic hit the southern European country.

That brings the total number of fatalities in Spain from 7,340 to 8,189 – although the percentage rise is slightly down on Monday.

The number of confirmed cases in Spain stands at 94,417 – up 9,222 from 85,195.

The new deaths in Spain take the worldwide total past 38,000, and the new cases nudge that global figure close to 800,000.

The World Health Organisation warned that while attention has shifted to epicentres in western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over” in Asia and the Pacific.

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A Loyal Chinese Critic Vanishes, in a Blow to the Nation’s Future

The sudden silence of Ren Zhiqiang, a vocal member of the Communist Party, signals a retreat from the principles that led China out of poverty.


By Li Yuan

Weeks before Ren Zhiqiang disappeared, leading to fears among his friends and fans that he had been picked up by the Chinese authorities, the 69-year-old former property mogul locked himself up.

It happened at an exhibition he held in December to show off his wood sculptures, a late-life passion after retirement and rising censorship left him little else to do. He barred himself inside a small work studio, so that attendees could view him only through a small window or from the open roof.

It was performance art, Mr. Ren explained to his friends, to show his isolation after the government barred him from social media and giving speeches. When friends asked how the government might react, he smirked the way he usually did when challenging authority.

Now, Mr. Ren may have gone further than the current leadership will allow.

His friends say he vanished this month after writing an essay critical of the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The essay, which was shared widely within private internet message groups, never named Xi Jinping, China’s top leader. But it said the actions of a power-hungry “clown” and the Communist Party’s strict limits on free speech had exacerbated the epidemic. It declared that the party should “wake up from ignorance” and oust the leaders holding it back, just as it did with the leaders known as the “Gang of Four” in 1976, ending the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.

The disappearance of Mr. Ren, a longtime critic of the Chinese government, adds to fears that China is sliding backward and abandoning the reforms that saved it from extreme poverty and international isolation. Mr. Ren was no radical — he was a decades-long loyal Communist Party member, the former leader of a state-run company and a friend to some of China’s most powerful politicians. He emerged in what now seems a distant time, from the 1980s to the period before Mr. Xi became top leader, when the party brooked no challenge to its rule but allowed some individuals to question some of its choices.

Mr. Ren’s fate remains unclear. But if he was punished for his writing, it suggests China’s leadership won’t tolerate criticism no matter how justified it might be.

Like Mr. Xi, Mr. Ren was born into party royalty. His father was a deputy commerce minister. His mother went to school with the North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung, who held him in a photo when he was a baby, according to his social media posts and media interviews.

He was also well connected. He has been friends with Vice President Wang Qishan of China since he was in junior high. Mr. Ren wrote in his 2013 autobiography that Mr. Wang would sometimes call him late in the evening and chat for hours.

Mr. Ren hired Liu He, China’s main negotiator in the trade war with the United States, as a part-time researcher when Mr. Liu was a graduate student. Yu Zhengsheng, a former member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, its highest ruling body, worked with Mr. Ren when he was the construction minister and wrote the introduction of Mr. Ren’s first book in 2002.

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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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Growth in Australia coronavirus cases slows, but experts urge caution

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Tuesday reported a sustained fall in the country’s rate of new coronavirus infections but officials and experts warned against complacency, stressing the need for further strict social distancing policies.

To ensure compliance, state authorities enacted sweeping powers to impose hefty fines and potential jail terms on anybody breaching rules that include a ban on public meetings of more than just two people.

Health Minister Greg Hunt reported there were about 4,400 coronavirus cases nationally, with the rate of growth in new infections slowing to an average of 9% over the past three days from 25-30% a week ago.

Of those, 50 people were in intensive care and 20 were on ventilators, Hunt said. The death toll in a country of almost 25 million stood at 19.

Based on the completion of more than 230,000 tests, the death rate for Australian cases was below 1%, significantly under the 10% being reported by some other countries and suggesting “early promising signs of the curve flattening,” Hunt said.

“That’s an achievement to which all Australians have contributed,” he said in a televised news conference.

Countries around the world are chasing the goal of “flattening the curve”, referring to a slowdown in the anticipated first wave of infections to stop hospitals being overrun with critical patients.

Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, said while Australia stopped short of the full lockdown imposed by other countries, it introduced social distancing measures relatively early.

“We acted much earlier than the likes of Italy and the United States,” Collignon told Reuters. “We had much less community transmission and we still shut our borders and implemented social distancing policies such as shutting down bars and pubs, and did much more testing.”

Collignon also noted there may be an element of luck in the current trend, and backed official moves to keep social interactions to a minimum.

Several states introduced penalties on Tuesday for people flouting social distancing requirements. The repercussions differ from state to state, but include fines of up to A$11,000 ($6,779), the potential of a six-month prison term and the requirement to wear an electronic tracking device.

CURVE FLATTENING

Philip Russo, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, said talk of curve flattening was “premature.”

“We need to have weeks on end of decreasing numbers of new cases on a daily basis,” Russo said. “What we are seeing now is quite possibly normal daily variation.”

The government’s own caution was highlighted by a deal to boost the public health system with an extra 34,000 hospital beds sourced from private hospitals, along with thousands of doctors and nurses. Australia will also take delivery of more than 5,000 ventilators at the end of April, Hunt said.

Health officials said earlier on Tuesday they wanted to increase testing, especially in places of COVID-19 clusters such as Sydney’s Bondi area, which drew attention earlier this month after people ignored social distancing rules and flocked to the beach. NSW officials said that the virus may have been transmitted in the Bondi community via an infected backpacker who was not aware they were carrying the disease.

Like all affected countries, Australia’s financial and jobs markets have been roiled by the outbreak, prompting the government to unveil several stimulus packages.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that 113,000 businesses had registered interest in a new A$130 billion ($80 billion) six-month wage subsidy designed to stop spiralling unemployment and business closures.

The “job keeper” allowance brought the country’s coronavirus-related stimulus so far to A$320 billion, or about 15% of Australia’s gross domestic product, as economists forecast the country’s first recession in almost three decades.

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‘I’m in coronavirus lockdown with my abuser’

With much of the world on coronavirus lockdown, there are warnings that those living with domestic abuse could become hidden victims of the pandemic.

In the UK, calls to the national abuse hotline went up by 65% this weekend, according to the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales. Meanwhile, the UN has warned that women in poorer countries and smaller homes are likely to have fewer ways to report abuse.

The BBC has spoken to two women who are currently under lockdown with men who they say have abused them.

Geeta, India

This interview was conducted the day before India announced a 21-day complete lockdown in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Geeta wakes up at 5am, her husband is lying next to her on the floor. He’s snoring loudly.

The previous night he had come home drunk and upset. The coronavirus outbreak meant fewer people were using public transport, so as an autowallah, or rickshaw driver, Vijay’s income had dropped from 1,500 rupees a day (just over £16), to 700 rupees a day.

“How many days will be like this?” he’d shouted, throwing a bottle of the spirit he’d been drinking against the wall. Geeta’s children scrambled behind her for shelter.

Thankfully, Vijay climbed onto the small mattress the whole family share and fell asleep soon after his outburst.

“It took a while to calm the children,” says Geeta. “They’ve seen their father angry many times in their life but the past few weeks it has been worse. They’ve seen him throw things against the wall and pull me by the hair.”

Geeta’s husband has hit her more times than she can remember, the first time on their wedding night. She tried to leave him once, but he wouldn’t let her take the children.

They live in a low-income neighbourhood, called a mohalla, in a rural area.

On a typical day she would walk a kilometre to the nearest well to fetch water for the day. Once she had taken it home, she’d chat with neighbours waiting for the grocer to arrive with his cart of vegetables.

After buying the household food for the day, Geeta would start preparing breakfast. Her husband would leave at around 7am, returning for lunch and a nap, leaving again after the two older children returned from school.

“But things changed when the school closed on the 14th,” she says. “Then the children were home constantly and they began to irritate my husband.

“Usually he saves his anger for me, but he has begun to yell at them for minor things like leaving a cup on the floor. I then say something to divert his attention so he can be angry at me, but the more time we are together, the less I can think of to distract him.”

Geeta had a plan. While her husband was at work, and after cleaning the house, she would walk to a nondescript office building just outside the neighbourhood.

There she used to attend a secret class set up by community organisers where women learn to sew, read and write.

Geeta wants to get enough skills to be financially independent and move out with her children. At the class, she also met with counsellors who are trained to help domestic violence victims.

But India’s 21-day lockdown, which began on 24 March, has put a stop to this. The classes have ended and it’s impossible for community counsellors to visit vulnerable women.

Vimlesh Solanki, a volunteer for a Sambhali Trust, an organisation that supports women in Jodhpur, the second largest city in Rajasthan, says coronavirus has put women in danger.

“A complete lockdown means every day is completely disturbed. There are now no local grocers with carts so they need to travel further to the supermarket for food every day.

“Stressful situations like this means that there are more things that trigger their already abusive partners.”

Kai, New York, USA

Kai got out her phone and typed slowly. “Mom wants me to stay with you.” She pressed send. A reply came quickly: “That’s fine.”

Last week, the teenager stepped back inside the house she vowed she would never enter again. “The second I walked back in my brain shut down,” she says softly. “Everything turned off, every feeling.”

She had moved back in with her father, the man who she says physically and sexually abused her for years.

Two weeks ago Kai thought coronavirus was something that would blow over with a passing news cycle. Then things changed.

The staff at the shop where her mother worked were getting restless. News that the virus had crossed shores, spread to more than 170 countries and now reached New York, was making people nervous.

Working at a shop meant interacting with customers on a daily basis.

Kai’s mum and her co-workers worried about contact with the customers, but they didn’t have to worry for long. The shop announced it would close indefinitely and staff would be made redundant.

Kai’s mother lost her $15-an-hour (£12) job and was told she would only have health insurance for five days.

It began to take a toll on Kai’s mother, who had suffered from mental health challenges most of Kai’s life.

“She had an episode,” says Kai. “She shouted ‘things are crazy here, you should go to your dad’s house'”.

The words sent a cold pang of distress through Kai’s veins. She retreated to her room, hoping that if she gave her mother some time things may blow over. But when she returned downstairs her mother simply said: “Why are you still here?”

It was only a few months since Kai had started therapy for the years of physical and sexual abuse she had experienced with her father. She says he had abused her since she was a toddler. She still hadn’t confided the full extent of the abuse to her mother and sister.

It was early days, but Kai says the therapy was helping her and she felt more in control. She was feeling more hopeful for the future.

Then the shelter where she saw her therapist announced that the coronavirus outbreak meant it had to close. And last week, she moved back in with her father.

“He’s here the whole time,” she whispers, “during the day he watches TV on his computer in the living room. At night I hear him watching porn.”

She knows he’s awake when she hears him making his breakfast smoothie. “I hate it so much, it’s so loud, the sound of the blender petrifies me. It’s the start of my day, when I have to be vigilant.”

Kai hasn’t slept much since she moved back in, her door doesn’t have a lock.

There was a routine to the physical abuse, it happened only when Kai did something to upset him. So she plans to stay out of his way and now only leaves her room to run to the bathroom and make herself something to eat in the kitchen.

The last time they were stuck together the house lost power and the abuse was particularly bad.

“He acts like we are living through a strange time in history, but doesn’t mention anything about the abuse,” she says. “That makes me feel like I’m going crazy. He hasn’t done anything yet but the anticipation is killing me.”

Kai spends all day online. Recently she’s been watching YouTube video essays on movies. She enjoys watching analysis of films she’s never seen.

She hopes that her mother will let her come back soon, or the coronavirus outbreak ends and she can find somewhere else to live.

Nicole Jacobs, domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales says police are ready to deal with a spike in domestic abuse calls.

“We’re trying to make sure people realise that the police are anticipating that domestic abuse will increase, that they’re planning for that,” she told the BBC.

“And they’re very clear that these are prioritised calls. So you can make silent 999 calls by waiting for the call handler to pick up making some kind of a cough or any sound at all, and pressing 5,5.”

She added that women with insecure immigration status should have “all barriers removed, without fear of deportation, when reporting violence at this time”, with more funding for key workers in refuges.

She also called for workers in social care and within specialist services to receive protective equipment during the virus outbreak.

‘Eyes and ears’

This is a sentiment echoed by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, who told the BBC that there’s an urgent need for people working with vulnerable women to be given protective clothing.

“What we need is funding for field workers with PPE to reach communities and check in on vulnerable women. This needs to be a priority and there needs to be urgent global government funding for this.”

She said that unlike the US and the UK, where national abuse hotlines have seen increased calls, the opposite will likely be the case in more developing countries.

“It is impossible for women from lower socio-economic backgrounds, in several countries, to report cases of domestic violence as they are living in one or two room homes with their abusers.

“It was only in the months after the worst of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa where we learned of increases in gender-based violence at home.”

Meanwhile, Ms Jacobs says now is the time for a proactive approach to dealing with domestic abuse in the UK.

“We’ve heard about these vast amounts of people who are recruited to be NHS volunteers. We need to make sure that they have the information they need to spot domestic violence because they will be our eyes and ears out and about in the community.”

The names of the two women have been changed.

Illustrations by James Mobbs

Translations by Rohan Nair

Video edit by Yousef Eldin

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U.S. airlines must suggest possible compensation for cash grants: Treasury

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Airlines must suggest possible compensation in return for government cash assistance and agree to conditions that include not cutting pay or laying off employees through Sept. 30, the U.S. Treasury Department said in guidelines issued on Monday as it prepares to quickly hand out $25 billion.

Congress approved legislation last week authorizing the $25 billion for passenger airlines, as well as $4 billion for cargo carriers and $3 billion in cash for airport contractors like caterers and airplane cleaners.

Under the law, Treasury is supposed to make initial payments of the grants designed to cover payroll costs by next week.

The companies “must identify financial instruments” that would “provide appropriate compensation,” the guidelines said, adding that these could include warrants, options, preferred stock, debt securities or notes.

The department told applicants to apply by April 3 at 5 p.m. to receive funds as soon as possible. Applications received after April 27 may not be considered.

Other conditions for the cash assistance include limits on executive compensation through March 2022 and no stock buybacks or dividend payments through September 2021.

Airlines may also apply for a separate $29 billion in government loans. Separate Treasury guidelines released Monday for loans said carriers must provide financial instruments “for the benefit of taxpayers, in equity appreciation or a reasonable interest rate premium.” Companies critical to U.S. national security can seek loans from a separate $17 billion fund.

Those seeking loans must describe losses they have “incurred or will incur as a result of coronavirus” and detail the cause of the loss such as reduced demand, unavailability of credit or unbudgeted medical expenses.

The Treasury Department said in reviewing applications for the cash assistance it will consider the “adequacy of the proposed financial instruments for providing compensation to the Federal Government.”

It also said it “may refuse to provide payroll support payments to applicants that have taken, or are currently evaluating, any action to commence a bankruptcy.”

Major U.S. airlines on Saturday asked the Treasury department to move quickly to release funds. They have cut tens of thousands of flights as travel demand collapses amid the coronavirus pandemic and warned that without cash they would need to quickly begin massive furloughs.

The chief executives of American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), United Airlines (UAL.O), Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) and others wrote in a letter that “given the urgent and immediate need, it is essential that these funds be disbursed as soon as possible.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday taxpayers will be “compensated” for providing emergency assistance to air carriers.

American Airlines said Monday it will be allocated about $12 billion of the combined cash assistance and government loans. It has said it expects that Treasury will not seek “onerous” conditions.

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Canadian restaurant chain starts selling groceries amid coronavirus shutdown

As the COVID-19 pandemic hammers Canada’s restaurant industry, one Vancouver-based chain is getting creative to keep customers coming in the door.

Earls Kitchen and Bar, which operates 68 restaurants in Canada and the U.S., is now selling groceries, both for pickup or delivery.

The company is selling a variety of grocery bundles, ranging from $30 to $99, including dairy and eggs, produce, pantry items and meat.

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It is also selling a-la-carte items such as flour, coffee and toilet paper.

The restaurant is pitching the initiative as a way to avoid line-ups at grocery stores, which have taken to limiting the number of customers allowed to shop at once during the pandemic.

Restaurants across Canada have been ordered to cease dine-in service through a variety of provincial and municipal public health orders and state of emergency declarations.

Many restaurants, including Earls, have been aggressively promoting take-out options.

But the move has left many businesses with heavily reduced cash flow, while rent and fixed costs continue to pile up.

In B.C., the industry association representing restaurants estimates that 15 per cent of its membership could be forced to close for good due to the pandemic.

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