Toronto health officials say they are strongly recommending dining areas of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres to temporarily close starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday to prevent further community spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Today, I recommend that bars and restaurants stop in-person and dine-in service and move exclusively to takeout and delivery service,” Toronto’s medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said in an announcement on Monday as part of the city’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
“I am also strongly recommending that all nightclubs, movie theatres and concert venues close as soon as possible.”
De Villa warned that businesses who fail to comply with the recommendation may be issued orders under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
“If one is found guilty of an offence under that act a fine may be applied and it may be as high as $25,000 per day,” she said.
De Villa said she does not take these decisions lightly and that it is an unprecedented step towards protecting the health and safety of all Toronto residents by limiting social interactions.
“If you are a business or an employer, help your staff to stay home. Limit group gatherings,” de Villa said.
“I am calling on our city to rise to this challenge to reduce the spread of this virus.”
She said there are at least three cases in Toronto where links could not be found, which suggests that those patients possibly contracted COVID-19 through community spread.
“We do know that effective social distancing is what makes a difference. We have seen this in other jurisdictions and we have every reason to believe that should be effective here as well,” she said.
Toronto Public Health said as of Monday it is monitoring 96 positive cases of COVID-19 in Toronto.
“This is a critical time to flatten the growth curve of COVID-19 in our community and Toronto Public Health, along with the City of Toronto, is committed to doing everything possible based on the expert advice of public health professionals to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Peel Region’s Public Health officials also recommended that all restaurants and bars stop in-person food service as well as for nightclubs, movie theatres and concert venues to close as soon as possible, and no later than at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.