Canada

As cases jump, council to consider new bar, restaurant restrictions

With Toronto seeing an “alarming” jump in local COVID-19 cases, new measures are on their way to help contain the spread.

Toronto Chief Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa announced Monday she intends to present a plan to this Wednesday’s city council meeting, further restrictions on the operation of city bars and restaurants.

“Where I can act under my own authority, I will,” she said, taking the microphone to speak first at Monday’s press conference.

“Where the participation of senior levels of government is required to assist, I will secure it.”

The new measures will reduce the maximum number of patrons in bars and restaurants from 100 to 75, and limit tables to a maximum of 6.

She will also recommend ordering limits on background noise at eateries to prevent diners from the need to speak loudly, and require everybody seated at a table to provide their complete contact information.

Right now, only one person per table is required to provide contact tracing information.

Ontario reported 700 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, the most  recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

Toronto saw 344 of those cases.

Amid promises to seriously crack down on COVID-19 scofflaws, Toronto Public Health last week shuttered a number of city restaurants, citing egregious violations.

In making this announcement, de Villa said she doesn’t want to instill any false sense of security that the key to staying safe is avoiding only one type of location or establishment. .

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“COVID-19 is linked to a wide range of locations,” she said.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve seen COVID-19 linked to locations like private parties, a diverse range of workplaces, weddings and religious services.”

That being said, she did say there’s clear evidence that bars and restaurants contribute to spread, and that it’s up to staff and management to mitigate that risk.

She said halting the spread of COVID-19 is a simple matter of following the rules, and promised that both she and Toronto Public Health will continue the fight.

“You can count on me to do all that I can do,” she said.

Tory supports mandatory masks in all workplaces

Toronto Mayor John Tory is joining the call to make face masks mandatory in Ontario workplaces.

Speaking during Monday’s COVID-19 press briefing, he said the move is part of a number of measures that will be presented to council at this Wednesday’s meeting.

“A healthy economic recovery requires healthy people,” he said.

“I will be working hard to persuade my colleagues to support them, but I don’t think much persuasion will be required because they just plain make sense.”

The measures include a six-month extension of existing bylaws mandating masks in stores and indoor common areas such as condo and apartment lobbies and elevators, and urging people to limit contact with others outside their homes as much as possible.

Council will also be asked to consider urging the provincial labour ministry to make masks compulsory at all workplaces, where social distancing isn’t possible.

“We have seen too many people getting sick from interaction with co-workers,” Tory said, adding the measures as an effort to reduce the spread without resorting to another lockdown.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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