Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario enters first stage of its economic reopening plan; Porcupine health unit will stay locked down for two weeks as cases surge

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

7:55 a.m. Ontario administered almost 200,000 vaccines Thursday; 10,826,669 vaccines have been administered in the province thus far.

8 a.m. Ontario is moving up second doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Pfizer and Moderna recipients in parts of the GTA and four other areas where the highly contagious Delta strain poses the greatest threat.

People who live in Toronto, the regions of Peel, York, Halton and Waterloo as well as the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Porcupine (Timmins area) health units can begin booking boosters Monday at 8 a.m. through the provincial or health unit appointment systems and pharmacies, officials said Thursday.

The eligibility — which has been accelerated by a month — applies to those who got first doses on or before May 9. There are no restrictions by postal codes.

“We will continue to expand eligibility for accelerated second doses as additional vaccine allocations are confirmed by the federal government as Ontario begins to reopen,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said as the province reported its seven-day average of new cases fell further to 617 infections with 11 more deaths.

An additional 2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected by the end of June on top of almost 5 million from Pfizer by the end of July.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson

7:50 a.m. Many Canadians who live in the U.S. were celebrating Wednesday’s announcement in Ottawa that pandemic border restrictions may be somewhat loosened by mid-July. “I’m in tears!!! I just hope this applies to all provinces, I want to go home!” one member of a Facebook group for expatriates wrote.

But the announcement by Health Minister Patty Hajdu contained no plan to allow fully vaccinated Americans to travel into Canada, and no timeline for such measures to be introduced. Among Americans who’ve grown impatient with Canada’s reluctance to ease travel restrictions, the reaction was stunned disappointment.

“It defies logic,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat who is chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus.

Read the full story from the Star’s Edward Keenan

7:30 a.m. Russia winger Andrey Mostovoy was cut from the national team for this year’s European Championship on Friday after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Mostovoy is the first player to be cut from a team at the tournament because of the virus.

The team wrote on Twitter that Mostovoy has been replaced by defender Roman Evgeniev “in connection with an unfavorable result of PCR testing.”

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said no other players were suspected to be infected.

“We all did (testing) yesterday evening, and all did it again this morning. Everyone is clean,” he said.

Russia is scheduled to play its opening Euro 2020 match against Belgium on Saturday in St. Petersburg.

Mostovoy made his debut for Russia last year and played eight of the team’s last 11 games, mostly as a substitute.

Evgeniev’s only appearance for his country was in a 5-0 loss to Serbia last year. He had been with the team at a training camp in the run-up to the tournament.

7:25 a.m. As the province moves into the first step of its three-stage reopening Friday, Ontarians will finally be able to enjoy more freedoms, after what people hope will be the last COVID-19 lockdown in the province.

The brutality of the pandemic was felt across Ontario’s communities. Half a million residents were infected. Thousands died; teenagers as young as 13, front-line workers, long-term-care residents and disproportionately visible minorities.

Lives were irreversibly changed, but despite the tragedy felt all over the province, people found slivers of hope. There were moments of peace, deep connection, success and for some even better health.

The Star spoke with six Ontarians about what they’ll miss from the pandemic, and what aspects of the “new normal” they hope will continue in a post-pandemic world. Here’s what they said.

Read the full story from the Star’s Maria Sarrouh

7:15 a.m. Spain’s squad for the European Championship has been vaccinated against the coronavirus after two players had to be isolated following positive tests for COVID-19.

The national team says medics from Spain’s Armed Forces administered the shots at the team’s training facility near Madrid.

Spain will play Sweden in Seville on Monday in its opening Euro 2020 match. Preparations for the tournament were thrown off this week after captain Sergio Busquets and defender Diego Llorente both tested positive.

Llorente’s subsequent tests have come back negative so his initial positive result may have been erroneous. The team says he may be able to return soon.

Busquets tested positive on Sunday and is under a minimum 10-day isolation. But the team says he is feeling fine and that it hopes he will be back during the tournament.

6 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enters the first day of the G7 summit as the only leader who has yet to pledge how many vaccine doses his country will donate to less wealthy nations.

The United Kingdom says leaders are expected to agree to give other parts of the world access to one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines through donations and funding.

Trudeau is set to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has stated he wants the three-day gathering to produce promises on ways to end the pandemic by the end of next year.

The G7 leaders will take part in a session today that focuses on how the health and economic recovery from COVID can be “for all.”

Ensuring equitable access to inoculations against COVID-19 is a call facing leaders from the World Health Organization, as well as anti-poverty and humanitarian groups, since over 80 per cent of the vaccinations to date have been in wealthy countries.

5:50 a.m.: As he gets set to open his patio in the heart of Greektown for the first time in months, Chris Christodoulou is a bundle of energy.

Christodoulou, who owns popular Danforth restaurant Soula’s, has been running around, making sure everything’s in tip-top shape, the chairs are arranged, and the food and booze have been ordered ahead of Friday’s reopening.

But as Step 1 of Ontario’s loosening of COVID restrictions begins, his biggest concern has been people; not customers, but staff.

“Honestly, the biggest problem right now is finding enough staff, especially servers and other people in the front of house,” said Christodoulou. “I’m excited we can finally open the patio again and I’m optimistic there will be customers, but it’s not going to solve this industry’s problems. We’ve all been suffering.”

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It’s a common refrain from restaurant owners across the city, as patios are allowed to open, giving them a lifeline after being closed on and off for over a year: Customers will come back, but staff shortages, higher prices from produce and meat suppliers, and limited seating means their businesses still won’t be out of the woods for a while. Some have also been struggling to get makeshift patios licensed under the CafeTO program.

Read more from the Star’s Josh Rubin.

5:45 a.m.: Outdoor dining and shopping at non-essential retail stores can resume in most of Ontario today as the province enters the first stage of its economic reopening plan.

New COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have dropped in recent weeks, allowing the province to loosen some pandemic restrictions.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and patio dining of up to four people per table are among the activities now permitted.

Non-essential stores can also reopen, with capacity limits, and outdoor fitness classes are allowed.

More restrictions will loosen after 21 days if pandemic indicators continue to improve and more people get vaccinated.

One region in northern Ontario, the Porcupine health unit, will hold off on easing restrictions for now as infections soar.

5:22 a.m. Some provinces hit hard by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have moved toward shedding more public health restrictions, but a national group is calling for those governments to slow their plans.

Zero COVID Canada sent a letter Thursday to the premiers of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec “to express our deepest concerns regarding the reopening plans.”

“As more and more evidence comes in, it appears that a single dose of the vaccine — including Pfizer — is only about 30 per cent effective against the Delta variant, which is ravaging India and the U.K. right now,” the letter says.

“Each new variant has the potential to evade vaccination efforts, and we need to protect our efforts to date.”

The group is made up of researchers, physicians, engineers, activists, lawyers, educators, and concerned citizens.

It noted that the variant first identified in India has already caused multiple outbreaks in Canada, including at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, and is behind case spikes in Manitoba and in Peel Region outside Toronto.

Zero COVID Canada also recommends that provinces keep masking and physical distancing, and to only restore capacity limits indoors when 70 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated.

5:10 a.m.: Ontario is moving up second doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Pfizer and Moderna recipients in parts of the GTA and four other areas where the highly contagious Delta strain poses the greatest threat.

People who live in Toronto, the regions of Peel, York, Halton and Waterloo as well as the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Porcupine (Timmins area) health units can begin booking boosters Monday at 8 a.m. through the provincial or health unit appointment systems and pharmacies, officials said Thursday.

The eligibility — which has been accelerated by a month — applies to those who got first doses on or before May 9. There are no restrictions by postal codes.

Read more from the Star’s Rob Ferguson.

5:05 a.m.: An “alarming” surge in COVID cases, including in several remote First Nations communities, means the northeastern health unit of Porcupine will stay locked down for two weeks.

The health unit will also open up second doses to anyone who got a first shot on or before May 9, in an effort to protect against the more contagious Delta variant.

“The Porcupine health unit is still in its third wave,” said Dr. Lianne Catton, medical officer of health, at a press conference Thursday afternoon, held at the same time that Steini Brown presented a much more optimistic picture of trends in the rest of the province on behalf of the Ontario science table.

Read more from the Star’s May Warren.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, June 11, 2021:

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 471,196 new vaccinations administered for a total of 27,715,799 doses given. Nationwide, 3,717,945 people or 9.8 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 73,130.152 per 100,000.

There were 108,380 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 30,444,634 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 91.04 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, June 11, 2021:

There are 1,398,274 confirmed cases in Canada (19,253 active, 1,353,148 resolved, 25,873 deaths). The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 1,479 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 50.66 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,832 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,547.

There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 229 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 33. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 68.08 per 100,000 people.

TORONTO STAR