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Coronavirus: Medical officer of health strongly recommends closing of bars, nightclubs: MLHU

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London’s medical officer of health announced one day prior to St. Patrick’s Day he’s recommending the temporary closing of dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres as soon as possible.

Dr. Chris Mackie with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) says it would be ideal for these locations to remain closed for at least the next two weeks, in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

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“Many of these facilities and businesses are among the locations where there is the highest risk for one infected person to spread the illness to dozens, or even hundreds, of others,” said Mackie.

Businesses that didn’t comply with the recommendation would be issued orders under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act — orders that, if not followed, come with significant penalties, he says.

“That’s something that rarely happens,” Mackie said of the penalties. “Restaurants and bars are used to having inspections from public health inspectors, and they’re generally very, very good at complying with orders.”

READ MORE: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to most foreign travellers amid coronavirus outbreak

In an official statement released Monday afternoon by the health unit, it said businesses that provide food takeout and delivery options are encouraged to stay open to provide the public with food options while limiting social interactions.

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These new recommendations align with those made by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and other public health leaders in Ontario.

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They recommended all bars and restaurants to close, and advised people to not gather in groups larger than 50.

This is the most recent increase in social distancing measures in London-Middlesex.

“There are a few more things that could be done [like] ordering all businesses to close. But we really are encouraging all businesses to try to have their staff work remotely from home whenever they can,” adds Mackie.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What’s open, closed — and cancelled — in London, Ont.

The province is starting to see community spread, said Mackie.

“That means we have spread of coronavirus with no link to travel. That’s a game-changer, and that’s why you’re seeing the recommendations really ramp up right now.”

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