Toronto Mayor John Tory said it has been “agonizing” contemplating the plight of restaurants and other businesses that now have to contend with at least another month of crippling restrictions, but the surge in COVID-19 cases mean he had no other choice.

The city’s move to the “Red” category on Ontario’s tiered coronavirus restrictions framework, along with new rules announced by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa will keep indoor dining, fitness classes, movie theatres, bingo halls and banquet facilities off limits until at least mid-December.

Tory said he has heard and appreciates the criticism from restaurants, some of which may soon go under, but there is no other viable path forward.

“Why would it be the case that in a major global city in the world, these same kinds of measures were brought in and all those people would be wrong – all those medical experts, all those mayors, all those people who are tasked with that agonizing decision to do their best to fight this virus, why would they all be wrong,” he told CP24.

He said restrictions like the indoor dining prohibition is meant to avoid having to impose a total lockdown.

“The damage caused by a total lockdown, even worse than what we had in the spring – I think would be incalculable,” he said. “We did what we had to do with these measures.”

Toronto reported more than 500 new daily cases on Tuesday, and a total of 2,000 new cases over the previous four days.

While there still is hospital capacity available in Toronto, that is no longer the case in Peel Region, a place Tory alluded to as somewhere we do not want to emulate.

He said he, Dr. de Villa and the rest of the city’s leadership are aware of the impact these public health measures have on economic well-being and mental health, but they are trying to strike a balance.

“The challenge of coming up with a balance of those things is deeply troubling and agonizing.”

A federal program will help shuttered businesses by covering 65 per cent of lost wages and up to 90 per cent of rent while they were ordered closed.

Applications for assistance from a $300 million program set up by the Ford government will open next week.