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Scaled-down Remembrance Day ceremony still a moving tribute

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The Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa was smaller and a little quieter this year, but it was nevertheless a moving tribute to those who served and sacrificed their lives for Canada.

The usual parade of veterans and serving military personnel was cancelled because of COVID-19, and many of the wreaths were laid ahead of time. To avoid the usual crowds, the Royal Canadian Legion and Ottawa police had asked people to watch the ceremony from home, but some turned out anyway.

Some traditions held fast, however: a bugler played the Last Post as dignitaries including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Julie Payette paid tribute to the fallen.

As Wayne MacCulloch, past national president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, told CBC after laying a wreath, “Remembrance is not about being here, but about something in your heart.”

Here’s a look at what Remembrance Day looked like in the capital this Nov. 11.

Sentries stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the first Remembrance Day ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Sgt. Chris Gerdei performed the Last Post as part of the Remembrance Day ceremony in the nation’s capital. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
While Canadians were encouraged to stay home this year, some still turned out at the National War Memorial to see the ceremony in person. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau pay their respects after laying a wreath at the National War Memorial. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
It wasn’t the usual blanket of red, but a few people still laid poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier this year. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canada’s chief of the defence staff, looks on as the Remembrance Day ceremony begins at the National War Memorial. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Many wreaths were laid at The National War Memorial in advance of this year’s small ceremony due to COVID-19. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
‘Remembrance is not about being here, but about something in your heart,’ MacCulloch told CBC. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
As has been tradition in recent years, two people lay their poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the end of the Remembrance Day ceremony. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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