Tory suggests strip club closure after second COVID-19 outbreak
Published Monday, September 14, 2020 8:02AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 14, 2020 5:29PM EDT
With a second strip club in Toronto reporting multiple COVID-19 cases, the city's mayor said Monday it might be best if adult entertainment venues shut down for a while.
"I noticed that this person voluntarily close their doors for two weeks, maybe it'd be better if they all closed and then we wouldn't have to worry about this," Tory told CP24 on Monday morning.
In August, Toronto Public Health issued a warning to 550 attendees and staff at the Brass Rail strip club at Yonge and Bloor streets after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
On Sunday, officials again issued a warning after six employees and one patron tested positive for COVID-19 at Club Paradise on Bloor Street West.
Contact tracers were unable to reach approximately 300 attendees at Club Paradise due to incomplete contact tracing log information.
"Think of the time that's take by public health officials trying to track all of these people down, in many cases with quite frankly bogus phone numbers," Tory said.
Although dancing is banned at all restaurants and bars in the province, dancers hired by the establishment are allowed to perform, provided they observe physical distancing guidelines.
Meanwhile, most live stage performances in the city are still on hold.
"It's ironic that small theatres that can't open for performances yet these places are open for what they offer – and I'm not making a judgment on that I am just commenting on the nonsensical nature of that," Tory said.
The city issues business licenses that allow adult entertainment venues to operate, but Tory said it would be improper to use licensing to shut them down during the pandemic.
"We can't just drop (business licenses) at the drop of a hat," he said.
Instead, Tory said the city is asking the provincial government if the reopening guidelines need to be changed to prevent strip clubs from operating.
In a news conference with the city’s medical officer of health later in the day, Tory added that it was “odd” and “contradictory” that strip clubs should be allowed to open when theatres and other business couldn’t. However he stressed that the onus is on individual establishments to follow the rules around infection prevention.
“It's not so much that we can afford to blame any particular place, you know, or category of places as being the one thing that's causing this to happen. First we have to change human behavior and secondly we have to count on people in those different businesses to follow the rules.”
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, echoed that idea.
“It’s not about a particular kind of establishment being safe and another establishment by definition being unsafe,” she said. “It really does boil down to what is happening in the location, what behaviours people are adopting.”