TORONTO, ON., July 20, 2020 — Toronto Mayor John Tory is sounding the alarm over concerns about entering Stage 3 of reopening as the city continues to get back to business in the wake of COVID-19.
The Mayor wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford, asking for broader and more defined safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the public during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. To help struggling businesses, Toronto implemented DineSafeTO allowing restaurants to take over a portion of the roadway for outdoor service.
In the letter, Tory outlines several provisions he would like to see implemented such as patrons remaining seated at food and drink establishments except for entering, exiting, travelling to and from washrooms, and paying.
The Mayor also calls for client logs to be maintained for contact tracing and seating capacity restrictions.
Tory is also asking for earlier closure times and that all staff take part in COVID screening and that patrons and staff wear face coverings when appropriate.
Maintaining social distancing has already been an issue as crowds flock to restaurants. The municipality is investigating MARBL at 455 King Street, where video was posted online of patrons and servers failing to adhere to social distancing rules.
In a Tweet on Sunday, Mayor Tory said, “I’ve sent a letter to Premier @fordnation with a request for additional measures to be implemented as part of Stage 3. These six recommendations will help protect our City from further spread of #COVID19 & help ensure we continue safely reopening.”
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott responded to Mayor Tory via her own Twitter feed noting the province will look into his request.
“Premier @fordnation and I appreciate the City of Toronto’s recommendations and will continue to work directly with Mayor @JohnTory and city officials as we constantly assess public health guidelines and evaluate when may the region may be ready to safely enter Stage 3,” she tweeted.
Other municipalities have already opened their doors, however Toronto and parts of Windsor-Essex Region remain in Stage 2 due to higher infection rates.
The Federal government has also denied the Toronto Blue Jays the ability to host home games, in an effort to curb possible outbreaks, due to concerns of players possibly bringing more cases into the city.
According to the provinces COVID-19 reopening framework, Stage 3 includes:
- Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people. Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
- In all cases, individuals are required to continue to maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles.
- All businesses, services and public spaces when hosting an event are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and ensuring physical distancing can be maintained.
- People gathering indoors for religious services, rites or ceremonies, and wedding ceremonies or funeral services, can continue to fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of the particular room, as introduced in Stage 2.
Theme parks, sporting venues, buffet-style food services, table game casinos and karaoke rooms will be among the establishments that will remain closed when Stage 3 is finally put into place.
Since the pandemic began Toronto Public Health has reported 15130 cases of which 13,467 have been deemed recovered. There have been 1,137 deaths from the virus in the city.
No date has been set for Stage 3 opening in Toronto.
story by Sarah Goldrick