Ontario News

Ontario News

Toronto Moving to ‘Red Zone’ of Province’s COVID-19 Tiered System

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Toronto is extending its current ban on indoor dining and fitness classes, and the closure of event spaces as COVID-19 cases continue to surge to record highs.

Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has confirmed indoor dining will not resume at Toronto bars and restaurants this weekend as initially planned, while a number of other businesses, including meeting spaces, movie theatres, and casinos will be ordered to remain closed amid the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

The restrictions will start on Saturday, November 14 at 12:01 am, when the current modified Stage 2 orders end, and the city enters the ‘red zone’ of Ontario’s COVID-19 tiered framework. The red zone is the last step of the tiered system before a full lockdown.

This announcement comes as Toronto officials said the City recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with 533 new cases in the previous 24-hours period.

READ: Ford Unveils Tiered System to Allow Businesses in Select COVID Hot Spots to Reopen

In addition to indoor dining and indoor fitness classes being banned, meeting and event spaces will also remain closed, as will casinos and gaming venues. However, gyms can open only if there are fewer than 10 people indoors.

At businesses and workplaces, de Villa said she is “strongly recommending” employers promote work from home wherever possible and to regulate ventilation in the building.

People are also strongly encouraged to restrict all social gatherings with people who live outside their own homes.

De Villa said she is using her powers under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to implement the restrictions, which will be in effect for at least the next 28 days — meaning the earliest businesses could reopen is on December 12.

“Toronto is clearly in the midst of a second wave and while we knew it was coming and while we took measures to address it, this wave continues to build at a pace that is no less than alarming,” said Mayor John Tory, adding, “We see the number of new COVID-19 cases in our city continue to climb with more than 500 cases a day yesterday and again today.”

Tory said Toronto’s test positivity rate – which is the percentage of tests that come back positive – has risen from 1.3% in September to 5.9% which is a “cause for concern.”

“We need to remain focused on saving lives, protecting the health of our residents, especially our most vulnerable residents in long-term care homes and schools, and keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed,” said Tory.

Tory said he knows the new restrictions will be difficult for many and especially for businesses in the city. “It was a difficult decision to make but it was the right decision to make. Dr. de Villa has been clear with me that these actions are needed in order to stop the spread of this virus,” said Tory.

In Ontario’s Red – Control level, social gathering limits remain the same from modified Stage 2 with 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. However, de Villa’s enhanced measures limit social gatherings to household members only.

The red zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 framework does not require indoor dining to close but Toronto has taken the additional step to do so.

When it comes to gyms, there can be 10 people indoors for areas that have weight and exercise equipment. While the province’s guidelines allow for fitness classes to reopen with 10 people indoors, Toronto has chosen to veto this option.

Under de Villa’s measures, Toronto will also require the continued closure of meeting and event spaces, casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments.

Indoor movie theatres are also required to stay closed in the red zone.

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