social distancing de villa

Limit in-person contact with those you do not live with to slow COVID-19, Toronto health officials warn

Toronto Public Health suggests further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus

Toronto Public Health announced 251 new cases of COVID-19 as of Sept. 28, a moderate drop from the 344 cases recorded the previous day, but enough for health officials to suggest further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

In a report presented to Toronto City Council this week, Toronto Public Health is suggesting that people limit interactions outside their household contacts and wear masks as much as possible.

“It is important for people to limit in-person contact with those they do not live with and to keep six feet distance from others who are not part of their household. Where this is not possible, people should always wear a mask. People should bring a mask every time they leave their home so that they are prepared for all situations. It also continues to be important for everyone to wash their hands frequently,” the report states.

The report continues on to suggest that all workplaces should support physical distancing for employees and visitors, and, again, where this is challenging, require masks or face coverings. It also advocates for the Province of Ontario to act in accordance with this recommendation.

In a news conference on Monday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, stressed that individuals get COVID-19 from people—not from places.

“We have to acknowledge that the extent of the infection spread and the nature of city life means that the concept of the bubble, or the social circle, no longer reflects the circumstances in which we live,” de Villa said at the press conference. She added that it was a sensible approach to exiting the strict isolation and restrictions of last spring, as well as an effective model for safely establishing contact between people, but times have changed.

Her recommendations are being debated across social media.

 

 

Additional recommended actions listed in the report aim to help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in food and drink establishments, including:

  • Reducing the total number of patrons permitted to be inside a food and drink establishment, at any one time, from 100 to 75.
  • Requiring establishments to maintain a customer log for each patron (not just one person from the group).
  • Reducing the maximum number of people able to sit at each table, both inside and outside, from 10 to six.
  • Requiring that background music/sounds (including from televisions) must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation.

This report also recommends extending the existing City of Toronto COVID-19 bylaws until the end of City Council’s first meeting in 2021 (they are currently set to expire on October 1, 2020).

These bylaws include measures surrounding physical distancing in public spaces, mandatory mask and face covering bylaws, public health measures for bars and restaurants, and temporary COVID-19 amendments to Chapter 354, apartment buildings.

Earlier this month, social gathering limits in COVID hot spots, which include Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa, were lowered to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. These limits were then extended to all regions across the province.

Under the new amendments to the Reopening Ontario Act, it would be considered an offence to host or organize a gathering in a residential premise or other prescribed premise that exceeds the limits under an order. Hosts who break these rules will be charged, at minimum $10,000; individuals who show up to these social gatherings can also be fined $750.

Meanwhile, Toronto enforcement officers are patrolling the city and responding to complaints. On Monday, the City and Toronto Public Health received nine complaints related to businesses breaking COVID rules. Four notices were issued to businesses by Toronto Public Health. The City received 32 complaints related to parks; one ticket was issued by bylaw officers and two by police.

As of Tuesday, there were a total of 51,085 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario reported to date. Compared to the previous day, this represents an increase of 554 confirmed cases and an increase of 4 deaths.

The majority of cases are occurring in people between the ages of 20 and 39.

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Article exclusive to TRNTO