New restrictions under consideration in Toronto as COVID-19 cases continue to climb
Published Monday, November 9, 2020 8:45AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 10, 2020 12:00AM EST
Toronto's mayor and top public health doctor say they plan to release more information tomorrow about whether the city will introduce additional restrictions to curtail rising COVID-19 infections.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said he believes an "enhanced suite of measures" will likely be needed to drive down cases in Toronto, which saw a record high 483 new infections on Monday.
"We won't speculate today on what action will be taken. We are continuing to speak with our public health officials, with our lawyers, and with the province. And as people would expect, we are carefully reviewing all of our options," Tory said.
Last week, the province released a new framework for COVID-19 restrictions, placing Ontario’s 34 public health units into one of five colour-coded categories.
While Toronto currently remains in a modified version of Stage 2, the premier previously said that Toronto would be placed in the orange, or "restrict," category come Nov. 14.
In the orange category, indoor dining can resume but establishments can only have 50 people inside at one time, only four people can sit at a table, and liquor cannot be sold past 9 p.m.
Gyms will also be permitted to reopen but no more than 50 people can be inside a fitness centre at one time.
Peel Region, which at one point last week had a staggering test positivity rate of 11 per cent, is the only area of the province that has been placed in the red or “control” category.
That means gyms can reopen and indoor dining can resume but with a strict capacity limit of just 10 people.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, the region's medical officer of health, also imposed additional restrictions over the weekend to slow the spread of the virus.
Birthday parties, wedding receptions and other large gatherings have been prohibited, and there are additional restrictions for indoor dining and gym activity.
Residents in the region have also been told not to visit other houses or allow visitors of other households into their home.
Loh confirmed over the weekend that one Peel Region hospital, William Osler Health System, now has more than 100 confirmed and probable COVID-19 patients and was forced to transfer patients to other hospitals around the province after reaching capacity.
Tory said the city is reviewing the measures implemented by Peel Region as well as restrictions imposed in other jurisdictions across the country.
He noted that more details will be provided on Tuesday.
"What you can expect is strong, responsible action, based on the best practices and the best available advice. I believe it is also important that we take action in a timely manner and communicate it as clearly and as soon as possible to people," he said.
"That applies to businesses as well which have purchasing and other decisions to make and it applies to individuals residents and decisions about their own lives and how they lead them every single day."
'Hunker down,' Tory tells Torontonians
Tory urged members of the public to "hunker down" and diligently follow public health guidelines so case numbers don't "dramatically increase" and put us in a "deep and deadly hole."
"I think if we are all honest, we've made little exceptions here and there, saying, 'It was only two friends we had over'... laws or rules don't help too much with this. People know that so they have to take this on themselves at this critical point in the pandemic," he said.
"Stay home. Be in touch with other people virtually."
Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Ford said he will stand behind any additional restrictions Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, puts in place for the city.
"We are in close collaboration with Dr. de Villa, our health table is...I'm in close communications with Mayor Tory and we are going to communicate and make sure we are all on the same page," Ford said.
"Dr. de Villa has the authority and the power to change things if she is not comfortable... and we will respect her decisions."
De Villa said the city has "very difficult decisions" to make as it tried to balance Toronto's economic interests with health considerations.
"I don't think the current case counts point us toward relaxing the roadblocks we are putting up in front of the virus," she said. "The extra time we have asked for shows us that we have not reached that point yet."