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COVID-19: Toronto City Council votes unanimously to strengthen bylaws for restaurants and bars

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Fewer people (6) will be allowed at each table, fewer people allowed inside, quieter background noise as of Thursday, October 8

TORONTO. ON. Oct. 1, 2020 — Toronto City Council has voted unanimously in favour of stronger measures to protect residents from COVID-19 and slow the ongoing resurgence of the virus in the community. The measures adopted were recommended by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and are supported by data collected by Toronto Public Health.

There are 19,593 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 321 new cases today. There are 65 people hospitalized. In total, 16,329 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,181 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.

Following today’s Council vote, next Thursday, October 8, several new temporary bylaw amendments will come into force. To prevent COVID-19 activity and outbreaks in establishments serving food and drinks, these businesses will be required to:

  • Limit the total number of patrons permitted to be inside at any one time to 75 (down from 100)
  • Maintain a customer log for each patron, not just one person from the party
  • Limit the maximum number of people able to sit at each table, both inside and outside, to six people (down from 10)
  • Keep background music and any other background sounds, such as from televisions or other electronic sound producing devices, no louder than the volume of normal conversation (with the exception of live performances carried out in accordance with the provincial Stage 3 regulation).

“Today, City Council unanimously approved a plan to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 in our city and protect the restaurants most impacted by that plan,” said Mayor John Tory. “We know that now is the time to take action and I am proud of Dr. de Villa and my colleagues on Council for moving to address the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in our community. City staff are going to work with food and drink establishments to pivot operations and open winter patios while we work with the Province to extend Regulation 719, freeze insurance rates on restaurants, and continue the pause on commercial evictions,” said Tory.

Winter patio options being explored

To mitigate the impact of the new bylaw amendments on food and drink establishments, Council approved Mayor Tory’s request for City staff to explore ways the City can support the industry through winter patio options. Council has further voiced support for the Government of Ontario extending Regulation 719 through 2021, so liquor sales licensees can continue to sell beer, wine and spirits as part of a food order for takeout or delivery.

Council also voted to request that the Province of Ontario act to require masks or face coverings in all workplaces where physical distancing for employees and visitors is challenging. The move follows Toronto Public Health identifying that COVID-19 case clusters and outbreaks have occurred among staff and patrons in a diverse range of workplaces. Other provincial government actions supporting businesses endorsed by Council include:

  • Working with the province and the insurance industry to support small and medium hospitality businesses by preventing increases to policy cost and premiums
  • Urging the province to continue the pause on commercial evictions until the COVID-19 resurgence eases.

Existing temporary City of Toronto COVID-19 bylaws were also extended until the end of City Council’s first meeting in 2021. This includes the Physical Distancing in Public Spaces bylaws (322-2020 and 323-2020), the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering bylaws (541-2020 and 664-2020), the Public Health Measures for Bars and Restaurant in Chapter 545, Licensing and the COVID-19 amendments to Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings. Information on COVID-19-related bylaws is available on the City website.

These new bylaw amendments will be enforced by the City’s COVID-19 enforcement team. The enforcement team’s primary goals are reducing the transmission of COVID-19, helping prevent the virus from overwhelming the healthcare system and saving lives through enforcement of emergency orders and bylaws. Enforcement officers are on patrol across the city at all times, in addition to responding to complaints. Complaints can be made through 311.

Read more top stories at TOtimes.ca and MTLtimes.ca.

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