Canada's financial capital reopening subdued as most employees stay home

By Nichola Saminather TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's financial capital, Toronto, staged a cautious restart of its economy on Wednesday following a three-month pandemic-driven shutdown as several of its biggest employers kept staff working from home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. At the usually bustling Union Station, spitting distance from the city's financial core and the intersection of Toronto's subway, the regional train system and bus network, staff outnumbered commuters

Reuters June 25, 2020 00:07:22 IST
Canada's financial capital reopening subdued as most employees stay home

Canadas financial capital reopening subdued as most employees stay home

By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's financial capital, Toronto, staged a cautious restart of its economy on Wednesday following a three-month pandemic-driven shutdown as several of its biggest employers kept staff working from home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus .

At the usually bustling Union Station, spitting distance from the city's financial core and the intersection of Toronto's subway, the regional train system and bus network, staff outnumbered commuters.

Downtown Toronto streets, normally gridlocked on pre-pandemic weekdays, were mostly free of traffic during what would have been the morning rush hour in the country's most populous city.

Most people out on the streets wore masks.

The PATH, a 30-kilometer (18.6 miles) below-ground pedestrian walkway connecting about 75 buildings, and the world's largest underground shopping complex, remained silent, devoid of office employees and many retailers still closed.

Andy Voelker, manager of a Second Cup coffee franchise in the PATH, said he hadn't seen an increase in customers on Wednesday.

The store, which remained open throughout the shutdown, lost about 90% of its business, but the return of construction workers three weeks ago revived some sales, he said.

"The return to normal probably won't happen till sometime next year," he added.

Ontario, the biggest province by population, started gradually reopening its economy this month, but much of Toronto, which has suffered more than 1,000 deaths, was left off the initial list.

Canada's three biggest lenders, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia, and life insurer Sun Life Financial said they don't intend to bring staff back until at least September.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said employees will continue to work remotely "for an extended period of time."

Brookfield Asset Management, which has reoriented desks and reduced meeting-room capacity, plans to bring employees back gradually, a spokeswoman said.

Even so, high-rise office buildings in Toronto stood ready.

Brookfield, one of the biggest downtown landlords, has disinfected buildings, and cleaned and tested air distribution systems and water supply tanks, the spokeswoman said.

Cleaning and security staff dotted office lobbies, wiping down common areas and ensuring what little foot traffic there was followed signs to maintain distance and move in certain directions. Elevators sported stickers limiting the number of riders.

"It's sad that the hustle and bustle of downtown is gone," said Meghan Wilton, who works at Medisys Health Group in Toronto, which opened at reduced capacity three weeks ago.

(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Andrea Ricci)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.