Toronto City Council votes unanimously to strengthen bylaws to prevent continued COVID-19 resurgence
TORONTO – Toronto City Council today voted unanimously in favour of stronger measures to protect residents from COVID-19 and slow the ongoing resurgence of the virus in the community. The measures adopted were recommended by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and are supported by data collected by Toronto Public Health.
Mayor John Tory says, “Today, City Council unanimously approved a plan to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 in our city and protect the restaurants most impacted by that plan. We know that now is the time to take action and I am proud of Dr. de Villa and my colleagues on Council for moving to address the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in our community. City staff are going to work with food and drink establishments to pivot operations and open winter patios while we work with the Province to extend Regulation 719, freeze insurance rates on restaurants, and continue the pause on commercial evictions.”
There are 19,593 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 321 new cases today. There are 65 people hospitalized. In total, 16,329 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,181 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.
“I am pleased with Council’s decision today to support further actions my team and I recommended to stop transmission of COVID-19 in our city. The recent spike in cases that we’re seeing is concerning and we must take this seriously. The decisions we make as we go about our daily activities are in many ways the most important way to fight COVID-19. Please adopt the steps for self-protection: as much as possible limit contact with anyone you don’t live with; as often as possible, keep at least six feet apart from people you don’t live with; as often as possible, wear a mask when outside your home, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult; wash your hands frequently; and stay home when you are sick. These circumstances aren’t permanent, but they are real right now. By taking action we can limit the damage and get through this together,” adds Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.
Following today’s Council vote, next Thursday, October 8, several new temporary bylaw amendments will come into force. To prevent COVID-19 activity and outbreaks in establishments serving food and drinks, these businesses will be required to:
• Limit the total number of patrons permitted to be inside at any one time to 75 (down from 100)
• Maintain a customer log for each patron, not just one person from the party
• Limit the maximum number of people able to sit at each table, both inside and outside, to six people (down from 10)
• Keep background music and any other background sounds, such as from televisions or other electronic sound producing devices, no louder than the volume of normal conversation (with the exception of live performances carried out in accordance with the provincial Stage 3 regulation)
To mitigate the impact of the new bylaw amendments on food and drink establishments, Council approved Mayor Tory’s request for City staff to explore ways the City can support the industry through winter patio options. Council has further voiced support for the Government of Ontario extending Regulation 719 through 2021, so liquor sales licensees can continue to sell beer, wine and spirits as part of a food order for takeout or delivery.
Council also voted to request that the Province of Ontario act to require masks or face coverings in all workplaces where physical distancing for employees and visitors is challenging. The move follows Toronto Public Health identifying that COVID-19 case clusters and outbreaks have occurred among staff and patrons in a diverse range of workplaces. Other provincial government actions supporting businesses endorsed by Council include:
• Working with the province and the insurance industry to support small and medium hospitality businesses by preventing increases to policy cost and premiums
• Urging the province to continue the pause on commercial evictions until the COVID-19 resurgence eases
Existing temporary City of Toronto COVID-19 bylaws were also extended until the end of City Council’s first meeting in 2021. This includes the Physical Distancing in Public Spaces bylaws (322-2020 and 323-2020), the Mandatory Mask or Face Covering bylaws (541-2020 and 664-2020), the Public Health Measures for Bars and Restaurant in Chapter 545, Licensing and the COVID-19 amendments to Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings.
These new bylaw amendments will be enforced by the City’s COVID-19 enforcement team. The enforcement team’s primary goals are reducing the transmission of COVID-19, helping prevent the virus from overwhelming the healthcare system and saving lives through enforcement of emergency orders and bylaws. Enforcement officers are on patrol across the city at all times, in addition to responding to complaints. Complaints can be made through 311.
Although these strengthened measures are coming into force, all people in Toronto are reminded to adopt steps for self-protection. As much as possible limit contact with anyone you don’t live with. As often as possible, keep at least six feet apart from people you don’t live with and wear a mask when outside your home, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult. Wash your hands frequently and remain at home when ill.
“We’re at a tipping point in our fight against COVID-19. The actions that residents and governments take in the days ahead will determine the state of our city in the weeks to come. This afternoon, City Council approved new measures from our Medical Officer of Health to tackle rising cases and transmission. The measures approved today will help to increase safety for workers, customers, and all Torontonians. But our job is not done. We will continue to do everything – absolutely everything – in our power to protect the health of Torontonians,” states Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Board of Health.