Toronto's top doctor orders closure of four businesses over concerns about transmission of COVID-19
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, September 25, 2020 4:43PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2020 11:03PM EDT
Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of four hospitality businesses that she says failed to take the necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says that the reasons behind the closure orders are specific to each business but generally point to an abdication of responsibility to help control the spread of COVID-19.
As an example, she said that investigators with Toronto Public Health found that one of the businesses served food buffet-style in direct contravention of provincial regulations.
Others, she said, pressured employees to work when they were ill and were “frequently uncooperative” with Toronto Public Health investigators as they attempted to trace cases of COVID-19.
De Villa also said that investigators found a “concerning link” among the businesses with many people who contracted COVID-19 having visited more than one of them. There were also instances in which staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 worked at more than one of the locations.
“These factors combined to create a significant risk to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 so I am acting under my authority to close down these businesses,” de Villa said during a briefing at city hall on Friday afternoon. “These are not actions I take lightly but I act first in the interest s of public health and in these circumstances the action taken is the right action to protect your health.”
De Villa said that orders requiring the closure of all four businesses are currently being issued, at which point their names and locations will be released to the public.
She said that in order to reopen each business will have to satisfy the specific conditions spelled out in the closure orders.
Speaking with reporters alongside de Villa, Mayor John Tory said that her decision to use her powers under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to order the closure of the business is the sort of “tactical responses” that the city will have to take when it finds “specific hot spots contributing to the spread of COVID-19” going forward.
“The action that Dr. de Villa is taking today will close some businesses but they must close so the vast majority of businesses can stay open,” he said.