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Toronto's top doctor urges province to ban indoor dining, further enhance public health measures

Last Updated Oct 2, 2020 at 4:18 pm EST

Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is urging the province to adopt even stricter public health measures for the city as Toronto sees its case count grows.

In a letter to the Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, Dr. Eileen De Villa said Toronto has seen a six-fold increase in their seven-day moving average, from 40 on Sept 1 to 236 on Sept. 29.

One of the main recommendations from Dr. De Villa is pausing indoor dining for 4-weeks. Currently, a restaurant can have up to 75 people indoors with only six individuals allowed at a table.

She says they explored two alternative measures including requiring people to only dine with their household or only restricting indoor dining in areas of the city where the case count is high, but said they would be too difficult to enforce those restrictions.

Of the 45 community outbreaks reported between Sept. 20 and 26, about 18 were in restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, including one at Yonge Street Warehouse where up to 1,700 people may have been exposed to the virus and Regulars on King West where there were another 600 potential exposures.

Dr. De Villa also recommends residents only leave their homes for essential activities, similar to the restrictions during the first wave of COVID-19. She says people should only leave their homes for work, education, fitness, health care appointments and to purchase food.

 

While Ontario restricted gyms to 50 people per building and only 10 people per class Friday, Dr. De Villa says that doesn’t go far enough and recommends indoor group classes in gyms, and indoor activities for recreation and sports teams be discontinued as well.

She also encouraged the province to review the public health measures applied to large venues.

Dr. De Villa said she hopes the province will consider implementing these temporary measures for the next month.

“I am concerned if we do not act quickly to enhance public health measures, we will not adequately mitigate the immediate health risks to the public,” read her letter.

“Without quick action from the Province to implement further public health measures, there is a serious risk that the City will not be able to prevent the health and economic impact resulting from this surge, particularly with the imminent change in season.”

There are currently 169 active outbreaks in the city of Toronto, including in congregate settings like schools, childcare centres, workplaces, and long-term care homes.

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