In a report submitted to city council on Tuesday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, is recommending multiple enhanced public health safety measures for when the province moves Toronto into Stage 3 of re-opening and in case of a second wave of COVID-19.
During a press conference, Mayor John Tory put his support behind the report and many of the recommendations including more indoor capacity and table size limits, mandatory staff screening, patrons remaining seated at all times — except for going to or from the washroom or paying — and that establishments must record the contact information of patrons and provide this information to Toronto Public Health as needed for contact tracing.
“We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 right now, as we move into Stage 3, and in the event of a second wave,” Tory said. “The measures proposed today put us in a better position to quickly and safely respond to whatever comes next.”
The report also recommends a stronger push for mobile COVID-19 testing in neighbourhoods where data shows a high incidence of the virus, including northwest Toronto, and for demographic groups suspected of being at higher risk due to the social determinants of health, including occupation.
“I welcome these recommendations from our Medical Officer of Health and encourage City Council to adopt them,” Toronto Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said in a release. “The threat of COVID-19 has not gone away. It is critical that we continue to listen to public health experts, as we have throughout our response to the pandemic. We cannot let our guard down.”
The changes don’t stop at restaurants as there’s also a recommendation for the creation of a temporary bylaw mandating that face masks or coverings must be worn in the common areas of apartment and condominium buildings.
“While we can’t keep businesses closed forever, being prepared and proactive with responsible public health measures will go a long way towards keeping customers and staff safe, and reducing virus spread,” Cressy said. “Similarly, we need to ensure that people are protected in the common areas of residential buildings, and that physical distancing is continued in our parks and public spaces.”
According to the city, the recommendations echo a letter sent by Tory to the provincial government earlier in the month, requesting that strengthened measures recommended by public health be implemented as part of the provincial Stage 3 order applied to Toronto.
“While the Province of Ontario considers the implementation of these measures, council is in position to take action that can complement any future action by the province,” the city said.