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The coronavirus effect: COVID-19’s impact on sporting, cultural, civic events across Canada

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, speaks as Minister of Health Patty Hajdu listens during an update on COVID-19 at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, speaks as Minister of Health Patty Hajdu listens during an update on COVID-19 at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ongoing concerns about the new coronavirus have resulted in the cancellation of a number of sporting and cultural events across Canada.

While the organizers of many events — including Sunday’s Juno Awards in Saskatoon — are intending to go ahead as scheduled, a number of others have cancelled or rescheduled due to COVID-19 concerns.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)’s world women’s hockey championship — set to take place in Halifax and Truro, N.S., later this month — have been cancelled.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage told Global News that cancellation was disappointing but that it was “the right decision.”

Halifax mayor disappointed, but understands women’s hockey cancellation
Halifax mayor disappointed, but understands women’s hockey cancellation

The Arctic Winter Games, scheduled for March 16 in Whitehorse, Yukon, have been cancelled.

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The games celebrate northern sports and culture from around the circumpolar world, and the event’s host group said the cancellation was based on the recommendation of Yukon’s acting chief medical officer of health.

The traditional handshake has become taboo due to COVID-19 fears, with health and etiquette experts suggesting alternatives like fist bumps, “footshakes” and others.

Toilet paper has been flying off the shelves at stores in some Canadian cities, as shoppers are stockpiling the necessity due to coronavirus concerns.

‘People are buying toilet paper like it’s going out of style’: Calgarians stock up amid coronavirus concerns
‘People are buying toilet paper like it’s going out of style’: Calgarians stock up amid coronavirus concerns

The NHL has banned business travel outside of North America for its employees, going as far as to mandate a two-week quarantine for any league staff who find themselves in a location affected by COVID-19. League commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL continues to be “aware of and focused on all possibilities.”

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Security guard David Castillo wears gloves while holding a basketball during halftime of an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in Houston.
Security guard David Castillo wears gloves while holding a basketball during halftime of an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in Houston. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The NBA is reportedly planning for the potential of basketball games without fans or media in attendance. The league has also advised players to limit contact with fans, recommending players use fist bumps instead of high fives with fans and avoid handling anything passed to them by fans, such as pens and jerseys.

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Major League Baseball has gone even further, offering pre-signed player autographs to fans in an attempt to balance fan experience with public health.

Coffee giant Tim Hortons has said it will no longer accept reusable cups amid coronavirus concerns. The measure, which the restaurant described as “temporary,” comes during Tim Hortons’ annual Roll Up the Rim contest, which was originally scheduled to include distribution of nearly two million reusable cups across Canada as part of an effort to make the company’s annual campaign more sustainable.

COVID-19: Tim Hortons removes Roll Up The Rim cups amid virus fears
COVID-19: Tim Hortons removes Roll Up The Rim cups amid virus fears

Tims competitor Starbucks implemented a similar strategy, announcing it will stop accepting personal, refillable coffee cups from Canadian and U.S. customers in an effort to halt the spread of the virus.

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Pharmacies and other businesses, including some Canadian Tire and Walmart locations, are running out of hand sanitizer and face masks as customers stock up — including people buying ingredients to make their own DIY hand sanitizers.

Winnipeg pharmacies, businesses seeing shortages of hand santizers and face masks
Winnipeg pharmacies, businesses seeing shortages of hand santizers and face masks

The Public Health Agency of Canada is recommending against “all cruise ship travel” because of the risk of contracting COVID-19. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a press conference that the close quarters on cruise ships offer an environment where the virus can spread quickly.

Corona virus fears quarantines former Winnipegger on Diamond Princess cruise ship
Corona virus fears quarantines former Winnipegger on Diamond Princess cruise ship

Some insurance companies are declining to offer travel cancellation insurance for travellers who choose to stay home due to coronavirus fears. The insurance policy changes come as Canada’s two largest airlines are waiving change fees in light of concerns.

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Coronavirus fears have also affected the stock market, with the rapid spread of the virus amplifying fears of a global recession.

Members of Canada’s Asian communities have also raised red flags about increased levels of racism and xenophobia due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which originated in China. School boards, businesses and community leaders have spoken out against coronavirus-based racism.

Some public transit agencies across the country say they have stepped up efforts to clean vehicles and stations and switched to more aggressive antimicrobial cleansers as a precaution.

TTC, GO Transit roll out cleaning measures to prevent spread of COVID-19
TTC, GO Transit roll out cleaning measures to prevent spread of COVID-19