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Today’s coronavirus news: Beijing district shuts gyms and cinemas to halt COVID-19 spread

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

8 a.m.: It’s tempting to look at the job market in Canada right now and claim victory for everyone, including working moms, writes Heather Scoffield.

Unemployment is at a record low, the proportion of women in their prime working years participating in the labour force is higher than ever before, and even Indigenous women off reserve are making notable gains.

But to claim victory would be to ignore the lesson driven home by the leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that is poised to walk back abortion rights in that country, and is spooking us here in Canada.

Backsliding is a real risk when it comes to women’s progress, and the trends beneath the job-market headlines show us why.

The fear was that women would never recover from the pandemic recession. When COVID-19 prompted governments to tell most of us to work at home and shut down public-facing services, women took a huge hit. Low-wage women and racialized women took an extra-huge hit. And working parents reeled with home schooling, the on-again-off-again virtual classes, and trying to hold down jobs at the same time. Women’s participation in the workforce seriously eroded as they tried to juggle illness, kids, working from home and an unpredictable economy.

Now, after a roller coaster of massive job losses followed by massive gains and back again, the workforce seems to be behaving more like normal, essentially unchanged in April compared to March.

Read Heather Scoffield’s full column here.

7 a.m.: When Christopher DiRaddo’s second book was published last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montreal author was disappointed he wouldn’t be able to mark the achievement with a glitzy in-person book launch.

Instead, he got creative. In addition to a virtual launch, he and his partner created special gift bags that included a signed copy of his book “The Family Way,” and drove all around the Montreal area delivering them to customers in person.

“In a weird way, it was almost like a reimagining of what a book launch could be,” he said in a recent phone interview.

As in-person literary events resume, authors like DiRaddo say the creative marketing solutions learned during lockdowns, as well as a pandemic-spurred rise in reading, give them hope for the future of their industry.

Several authors and publishers interviewed by The Canadian Press said the pandemic was hard on brick-and-mortar stores, which had to contend with weeks or months of forced closures, capacity limits and cancellations of book launches and meet-and-greets.

5:45 a.m.: A key district in China’s capital has ordered some businesses providing non-essential services such as gyms and movie theatres to close to prevent the spread of COVID infections after President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his stringent COVID Zero policy.

Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district, home to embassies and offices of multinationals including Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., ordered companies “providing services other than those supporting residents’ livelihoods” to be closed until further notice, an official said at a briefing on Friday evening.

Businesses ordered closed include karaoke bars, internet cafes, museums and art galleries, said Yang Beibei, deputy director of Chaoyang district. New rounds of mass COVID tests were announced on Friday after the municipal government locked down some residential areas and subway stops in the city.

In the 24 hours ending 3 p.m. Saturday, Beijing added 78 new cases. Nationwide, 4,620 local infections were reported, most from Shanghai, the National Health Commission said, while 13 people died.

The city of Shanghai announced Saturday it would postpone entrance examinations for colleges and high schools until July, citing infection risk, while some of the city’s biggest manufacturers have said they are trying to restart plants.

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