Coronavirus: Non-essential businesses urged to close in Peel Region amid community spread

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Peel Public Health is urging non-essential businesses to close as health officials in the region begin to report instances of community transmission of COVID-19.

In a news release Friday, officials said non-essential businesses include, but are not limited to, clothing stores and other “non-critical” stores, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours, car dealerships and repair facilities, conference centres, banquet halls, as well as gyms and fitness facilities.

They’re being urged to close until April 5.

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Restaurants and bars that do not provide in-person services are exempt, the release said.

“In the past day, we are beginning to see evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in our region,” Dr. Lawrence Loh, the interim medical officer of health for Peel, said in the release.

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“We are grateful that many businesses have already changed their operations to help limit spread of the disease. At this critical moment, however, we must take stricter measures if we are going to succeed at limiting the impacts of this disease on our community.”

Loh later added that while there are currently no penalties for not following the recommendations, “We would hope that all Peel residents and business take a civic-minded approach to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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Peel Public Health is encouraging everyone to limit their time outside to necessary purposes only, like getting groceries or going to the pharmacy.

People are also asked to not go to malls and playgrounds.

“Now is the moment to act in order to flatten the curve,” Loh said.

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Peel’s recommendation comes one day after Toronto’s medical officer of health urged the city’s non-essential businesses to close.

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Earlier this week, the Ontario government mandated the closure of restaurants and bars, except those that offer takeout or delivery.

Premier Doug Ford has said he would expand the closure order if advised to do so by the Ontario chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams.

Williams was asked in a press conference Friday afternoon whether or not he would consider making that recommendation, and he said he may if he felt there was a large violation taking place against medical advice with regards to social distancing.

READ MORE: Close non-essential businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic: Toronto medical officer

He said there may be a few businesses that are not adhering to the advice and added, “they may have to be dealt with.”

“If people are not complying, I would recommend to the minister and the premier that they need to take more strides and steps because they have the ability to make those orders,” he said.

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“And local medical officers can write orders against those facilities if they have to.”

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