Peterborough Public Health says inspections of reopening restaurant patios will be conducted on an “as-needed basis” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During Wednesday’s weekly update, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra noted that health inspectors will review patio spaces in conjunction with routine food and safety inspections or in response to public complaints.
“So it (inspection) will be on an as-needed basis,” said Salvaterra. “Peterborough Public Health is also collaborating with the city and our other local municipalities to look at the requirements and provide inspection services upon request.”
The restaurant patio reopening provision is part of Stage 2 of Ontario’s reopening the economy. Peterborough city council is meeting Thursday to approve a bylaw to allow for temporary expansion of patios onto select city streets.
Salvaterra said she supports the idea of expansion onto streets to improve physical distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. Restaurant staff will all be required to wear a mask while working.
“I certainly support the rationale for allowing restaurants to serve people on patios because there is a benefit to being outdoors — the increased ventilation does reduce the risk for viral transmission,” she said. “But I suspect that this will be a challenge for restaurants who did not have patio space prior to the pandemic and that they have probably already turned to the municipality for assistance or support.”
Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien says the city is working with businesses to maximize space — in particular for businesses along Hunter, George, Water and Charlotte streets.
“It will be an interesting experiment when things reopen on Friday — it will be an interesting weekend.”
Salvaterra also noted the gathering of groups of 10 — up from 5 in Stage 1 — is meant to be for groups where physical distancing is still practised, such as meetings.
“There can be no sharing of food or utensils and frequent handwashing is encouraged,” she said.
“We expect household groups to be eating together — not a birthday party with 10 guests.”
Therrien says while they’re encouraged by the reopening of some parts of the economy, she reminded residents to maintain physical distancing and wear a mask.
“The last thing anybody wants is to have a setback that puts us back to where we were a couple of months ago,” she said.
Salvaterra echoed that, encouraging people to maintain physical distancing, make proper preparations before leaving the household (such as having hand sanitizer, a mask, research what’s open) and avoid close contact with anyone outside one’s “household bubble.”
“We are still in a pandemic and it’s important to remember we are still in a state of emergency,” said Salvaterra. “So the provincial directives in place limit what we can or cannot do. But we have to remember we are all still susceptible, and we all can still transmit this infection to others.”
Therrien noted “changes” are coming for Peterborough Transit. Full details were not announced but work continues on implementing safety barriers on the buses before fares are collected again.
“That’s a few days off,” she said. “There will also be changes to the route structure in order to enable more physical distancing to prevent less crowding at the downtown terminal.”
Route changes won’t go into effect for at least another two weeks, the mayor said.
She said Trent University and Fleming College will still be requiring service for students during the summer months and that may change with many classes going online this fall.
WEEKLY SITUATION REPORT
In its weekly situation report, the health unit says more than 11,100 residents have been tested for coronavirus — approximately one out of every 13 residents for a testing rate of 7. 5 per cent.
Of the health unit’s 91 cases reported by Tuesday evening, 54 per cent are female. 55 of the cases are people between the age of 20 to 59. Thirty-one of the cases are age 60 and over. Five cases are people age 20 and under.
As of Tuesday, there were four active cases, down from 11 a week ago.
Eight of the 91 cases have required hospitalization (nine per cent) with three cases requiring admission to the intensive care unit at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
Overall, the health unit’s incidence rate is 61 cases per 100,000 residents compared to the provincial average of 210 cases per 100,000 residents.
Sources of the COVID-19 exposure for the cases:
- Close contact: 51.6 per cent
- Travel: 26.4 per cent
- Community transmission (no known contact): 22 per cent