Coronavirus: Indoor dining, gyms ordered to close in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa

Ontario has announced new restrictions under a “modified Stage 2” for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa amid rising coronavirus cases.

The new measures, which are set to take effect on Saturday at 12:01 a.m., include the closure of indoor dining at restaurants and bars, as well as the closure of gyms, casinos, cinemas, and performing arts centres.

Personal care services where face coverings have to be removed must also discontinue operations. Interactive exhibits in places like galleries or museums must close.

The measures are set to last for at least 28 days.

Meanwhile, capacity limits at real estate open houses, meeting and event spaces, tour and guide services, and in-person teaching events will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.

Wedding receptions must follow those capacity limits beginning on Tuesday.

Social gatherings continue to be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained.

Schools and places of worship will remain open.

“The curve continues to increase in terms of its steepness,” Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said during a press conference at Queen’s Park Friday afternoon.

“We are seeing a dramatic growth in the per cent of tests that are positive. …

“At this point of growth in the epidemic curve, there is not the opportunity to either test more or contact trace more as a way to control or suppress the epidemic. At this point, it really requires public health interventions to break that chain of transmission and allow the numbers to come back down.”

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Brown said Ontario is starting to parallel a worst-case modelling scenario.

Brown said according to Toronto figures, the lowest source of outbreaks was actually in schools and said coronavirus transmission in schools is “relatively staying under control.”

Officials said a significant amount of outbreaks have occurred in workplaces and community settings like restaurants, bars, nightclubs and gyms.

Hospitalizations have increased over the past several weeks, with a total of 225 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday.

Calls to limit non-essential travel

Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health is calling on all Ontarians to limit trips outside of their homes except for essential purposes including school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor physical activities.

“In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes,” a government statement read.

Williams said “these type of steps and public health measures would not have been necessary” had all Ontarians followed public health guidelines.

Other areas around the Greater Toronto area are “moving up” and the new restrictions could be imposed elsewhere as well, Williams said.

The new restrictions came one week after Dr. Eileen de Villa of Toronto Public Health called for indoor dining and gyms to be temporarily shuttered in the city, among other measures.

When asked what has changed since that initial request, Williams said the province has received more data and has observed much higher daily case counts.

Ontario reported a record 939 new coronavirus cases on Friday, up from the previous record of 797 on Thursday. Friday’s report indicated 336 new cases were recorded in Toronto, 150 in Peel Region, and 126 in Ottawa.

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