Toronto to extend ban on indoor restaurant dining, indoor fitness classes

Toronto to extend ban on indoor restaurant dining, indoor fitness classes

Toronto residents should stay home as much as possible to combat surging COVID-19 infections, city officials said Tuesday, as they announced the extension of several restrictions including a ban on indoor restaurant dining and indoor fitness classes.

The city’s top doctor, Eileen de Villa, said the restrictions — which also include a continued shutdown of casinos, bingo halls and event spaces — will remain in place for another 28 days after they were to expire on Saturday.

De Villa also issued “strong recommendations” for residents to limit their close contact to those in their household and one or two “essential supports,” and stay home except for necessary activities such as shopping for groceries. She urged people to work from home whenever possible.

“The spread of COVID-19 has never been greater in Toronto,” and residents should behave as if the virus is everywhere, she said.

She pointed to recent data that shows 5.9 per cent of the city’s COVID-19 tests came back positive in the first week of November, and “alarming” case counts in recent days.

Mayor John Tory said Monday that Toronto would impose an enhanced suite of measures to curb the spread of the virus as the city transitions to the province’s new colour-coded system for pandemic rules.

The measures now being extended were first enacted last month by the Ontario government at the request of Toronto health officials.

At the time, de Villa said provincial intervention was needed because she received legal advice that it would be “unprecedented” for a local medical officer of health to implement such broad changes.

When asked about the issue Tuesday, de Villa said the legal advice hasn’t changed but the urgency of the situation has. She provided no further explanation.

Public health officials in another nearby COVID-19 hot spot, Peel Region, had also asked that the provincial government extend similar measures, but that request was denied.

The local health unit also implemented additional restrictions, such as prohibiting wedding receptions, after being switched to the new provincial system last week.

Peel is the only region currently labelled a red zone, the highest alert level short of a lockdown, but the restrictions imposed under that level are still less stringent than what local public health officials had asked the province to impose.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday the tiered, colour-coded system brought in last week is meant to serve as a “baseline” that local health units can build on by adding their own, more strict, rules as needed.

The premier said he supports the measures brought in by Peel and Toronto authorities, however, and denied being “at loggerheads” with local health units in terms of what steps are needed.

Myer Siemiatycki, a political expert at Toronto’s Ryerson University, said the premier appears to be “passing the buck” to local authorities rather than making tough decisions himself on how to best handle the second wave of COVID-19.

“I think the premier is simply recognizing that there are some politically difficult decisions to be made,” Siemiatycki said Tuesday.

“Handing this over to municipalities gets the premier off the hook. He can’t be, he won’t be able to be held responsible for…making the situation worse.”

Ford has been “selective” when it comes to granting local governments more powers or taking them away, he said, noting the province recently moved to unilaterally prevent municipalities from using ranked ballots in the next civic election.

The decision to shift more decision-making to public health units is a “strong contrast” to what’s taking place in Manitoba and Quebec, where provincial governments are taking ownership and responsibility for the pandemic response, Siemiatycki said.

Calls for more provincial leadership in tackling the pandemic are also emerging in Alberta, where a group of physicians and infectious disease experts this week called on Premier Jason Kenney to take more decisive action.

In an open letter issued Monday, the group urged Kenney to consider a two-week “short, sharp lockdown” to slow the spread of the virus and allow contact tracing to catch up.

Following the lockdown, the province should turn to a sliding scale of targeted measures based on data such as case numbers, the letter said.

“We believe it is time we had clear direction from our provincial government. We need rules, not suggestions,” it said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pleaded with provincial governments Tuesday to ask for more help if they need it to combat surging cases.

He stressed that no leader should loosen public health measures over concerns about the economic impact of keeping those restrictions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Collin Orthner, manager at McBain Camera in downtown Red Deer, stands behind the store’s counter on Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
A few Red Deer businesses happy with Black Friday results

While this year’s Black Friday wasn’t as successful as it was in… Continue reading

Le Chateau Inc. is the latest Canadian firm to start producing personal protective equipment for health care workers, in a July 3, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Hundreds of millions of dollars for frontline workers yet to be released, says Alberta Federation of Labour

Information recently released by the Alberta Federation of Labour suggests more than… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man killed in two-vehicle collision near Penhold, says Blackfalds RCMP

A 46-year-old man is dead following a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42… Continue reading

Banff National Park. (The Canadian Press)
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks… Continue reading

Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. Canadian dairy farmers are demanding compensation from the government because of losses to their industry they say have been caused by a series of international trade deals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Rathke
Feds unveil more funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers hurt by free trade deals

OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Canada's top doctor says the country is still on a troubling track for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue mounting in much of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers

Canada’s top doctor says the country is still on a troubling track… Continue reading

hay
Hay’s Daze: Giraffe knows filling wishes can sometimes be a tall order

Last weekend, I had a lovely breakfast. “So what?” you may say.… Continue reading

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says tonight's public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about reaching young people where they hang. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP leader stoked over ‘epic crossover’ in video gaming sesh with AOC

Singh and AOC discussed importance of universal pharmacare, political civility, a living wage

A south view of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breaking apart is seen from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut, in an Aug. 20, 2011, handout photo. The remote area in the northern reach of the Nunavut Territory, has seen ice cover shrink from over 4 metres thick in the 1950s to complete loss, according to scientists, during recent years of record warming. Scientists are urging the federal government to permanently protect a vast stretch of Canada's remotest High Arctic called the Last Ice Area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CEN/Laval University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Scientists urge permanent protection of Last Ice Area in Canada’s High Arctic

Tuvaijuittuq has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot

No winning ticket was sold for the $55 million jackpot in Friday… Continue reading

Most Read