Restaurants ask Ontario government to explain restrictions, show COVID-19 data

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ford says ‘it was the right decision’ to shut down restaurants, gyms again' Coronavirus: Ford says ‘it was the right decision’ to shut down restaurants, gyms again
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday was asked about new data from the Toronto region that showed only 14 per cent of restaurants and three per cent of gyms were responsible for COVID-19 outbreaks. Ford maintained that "it was the right decision" to re-impose restrictions when the province did – Oct 30, 2020

A group from Ontario’s restaurant industry is calling on the provincial government to explain its decision to impose tighter COVID-19 restrictions on the sector.

A coalition that includes the industry association Restaurants Canada and a number of food service businesses has issued an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, asking to see what data the province relied on in setting its health measures.

The letter says no data have been provided so far that would suggest restaurants are a major point of transmission for the virus.

Read more: New coronavirus modelling appears to show Ontario moving away from worst-case scenario

It notes restaurants have had to make significant investments in safety procedures and training, personal protective equipment and other measures, yet those in some regions are nonetheless being forced to stop serving customers indoors.

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A document released yesterday by the province showed that in four COVID-19 hot spots — where indoor dining is currently banned — the proportion of outbreaks linked to restaurants and bars between Aug. 1 and Oct. 24 ranged between 3.2 and 27.14 per cent.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said the provincial health table recommended targeting any “risk sites” where transmission could potentially be higher.

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“We said we were picking those settings where it’s indoors, where people are unable to mask for long periods of time,” such as restaurants and gyms, he said.

While other sectors, such as schools, may show a greater percentage of cases, those already have a number of measures in place to reduce risk, including cohorting and masking rules, Williams said.