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Coronavirus: Toronto Public Health calls for restricting indoor dining, indoor gym classes

Click to play video 'Toronto’s top doctor asks province for more restrictions' Toronto’s top doctor asks province for more restrictions
WATCH ABOVE: To help quell the alarming growth of cases of COVID-19 seen in recent days, Toronto’s top doctor is asking for additional restrictions. But getting those changes will take approval from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health. Matthew Bingley reports – Oct 2, 2020

In response to continued increases in the number of people in Toronto testing positive for coronavirus, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa is calling for stricter measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 for a period of four weeks.

“The city (is) at risk of experiencing exponential growth of COVID-19 infections,” a City of Toronto statement issued Friday afternoon said, noting the seven-day moving average of cases increased almost six times in September.

“Other jurisdictions who have experienced a resurgence have taken action that has stopped the virus while jurisdictions that have failed to act early have faced months of rising cases.

Read more: Ontario announces provincewide mask policy, new restrictions for ‘hotspot areas’

The statement said there are currently 169 COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings like schools, workplaces and long-term care homes. At the long-term care facilities, there have been gradual increases in September (up to nine from two). Community outbreaks have also been a source of increased transmission of the virus.

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“There were 45 active community outbreaks. Of these outbreaks, 44 per cent were in restaurants, bars and entertainment venues,” it said.

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“Socializing in bars and restaurants is contributing to significant exposures and outbreaks.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario introduces new restrictions as second wave continues to intensify' Coronavirus: Ontario introduces new restrictions as second wave continues to intensify
Coronavirus: Ontario introduces new restrictions as second wave continues to intensify – Oct 2, 2020

According to the statement, de Villa wrote to Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, with the following recommendations since she has “limited authority” to broadly enact the proposed restrictions:

– Prohibiting indoor dining
– Calling for people to only leave their homes for essential trips (work, school, exercise, health appointment and grocery trips)
– Having up to two people outside of a household be allowed to visit someone for social support if they live alone
– Cancelling all indoor group gym classes and indoor sport team activities
– Strengthening rules for large venues and the requirements for proof of public health measures, reviewing capacity limits

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“Dr. de Villa has requested that Dr. Williams, as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, use his legislative powers under the [Health Protection and Promotion Act] and the provincial emergency order to enact these changes or consider making the necessary legislative and/or regulatory changes to provide her with the authority to take these actions as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

De Villa said the proposals are meant to avert a lockdown seen earlier this year.

Mayor John Tory said he “completely” supports de Villa’s recommendations. He said the recommendations are time-limited and won’t last longer than needed in order to address public health concerns, but acknowledged it will be difficult for some sectors.

“This is strong medicine and I know it will be bitter for the businesses impacted,” Tory told reporters Friday afternoon.

“Her advice to date, which we have followed, has saved lives.”