COVID-19 cases in Toronto mall eateries on the rise

Ontario’s number of active COVID-19 cases has risen to the highest level in four weeks. There have been clusters of the virus across the GTA, and some of the positive cases have been identified in Toronto malls and restaurants.

On Aug. 31, Yorkdale mall management was notified by JOEY restaurant that someone at their location had tested positive for the virus. This came just two days following the closure of a Foot Locker store in the same mall after two of its employees tested positive.

The mall implemented health and safety practices when it reopened as part of Stage 2, such as offering hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations throughout the mall, signage for traffic flow and physical distancing, however cases have still occurred.

On Sept. 1, Sherway Gardens mall in Etobicoke confirmed two positive COVID-19 cases. One case was in the JOEY location and the other was in The Keg Steakhouse.

In a statement, Cadillac Fairview said: “The affected clients had acted quickly and responsibly by immediately contacting the mall authorities and public health. We have taken necessary actions as advised by public health by arranging a deep-clean of the client space. CF will continue extra cleaning of all elevator banks, food court tables, common area seating, doors and stair railings, and all other high-touch points in the complex. At this point in time public health has advised that no further action is required and the building can remain open for business.”

Both the restaurants are now open following a temporary closure.

Nevertheless, as an added measure, Toronto Public Health staff will be heading out to inspect shopping malls in the coming days. In a statement, the city said public health inspectors will ensure malls and retail spaces are complying with guidelines.

“Those shopping in person are encouraged to shop at times when stores may be less busy or to try shopping online, when possible,” the city said. “Residents should wear a mask and keep a physical distance while shopping, and always wash or sanitize their hands after being in a store or public place and not go out if they are feeling ill.”

The city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa too has urged citizens to be extra vigilant. During a press briefing at city hall on Sept. 2, she warned of an estimated resurrection in new cases, while Toronto Public Health officials confirmed a spike of new infections with a total of 123 new cases in the last week.

“The recent COVID-19 cases are due to people bursting their social bubbles, bending rules and socializing indoors without masks on,” said Dr. de Villa. “Just this week we identified new infections amongst people socializing indoors without masks and at close distance. These are exactly the kind of situations that are contributing to the spread of the virus.”

Article exclusive to TRNTO