New Measures to Curb COVID

The Province has announced immediate measures to curb the very alarming rise in new COVID cases.

Ontario had a record 939 new cases today, topping the previous record of 797 set yesterday. Toronto also saw a very alarming 326 new cases today. The weekly Toronto total was 1900, down slightly from last week’s 2001 but still a dangerously high number to be levelling off at. That number needs to be driven way down before a true second wave, widely expected this fall and winter, sweeps over us.

COVID hospitalizations in Toronto have doubled in the last two weeks, from 41 to 95. Typically, increased hospitalizations follows a few weeks behind increased cases, with higher deaths following the increased hospital numbers.

Continued high numbers could overwhelm our health care system. They have already restricted our ability to keep up with testing demands and have reduced contact tracing, which is in turn critical to keeping numbers down. Earlier this week, Toronto announced that it had suspended all but the most critical contact tracing because it was impossible to keep up with the caseload.

As of midnight tonight, indoor food and drink service is prohibited in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and food courts. Indoor gyms and fitness centres, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls – all closed. For a full list of closings and restrictions, click here.

The measures came a full week after Toronto Medical of Health Dr. Eileen DeVilla asked the Province to immediately enact such measures to get numbers under control. They are in place for at least 28 days.

Schools, child care centres and places of worship are not affected – the hope being that these can avoid closure if the new measures work and if the people being careless are shocked into returning to the more responsible behaviour that reduced the virus spread in early summer.

New gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors at event spaces were also announced. Restrictions on weddings will be delayed, but only until Tuesday.

The impact on many businesses, especially small independent restaurants, is potentially extreme. Today, the federal government announced a new round of support for small business which will cushion the blow for some. These include a rent and mortgage subsidy, a top up of the earlier emergency rent subsidy, and an expanded Canada Emergency Business Account. Legislation still needs to be introduced and passed to bring these measures into effect. For more details click here.

The City also introduced the suspension of registrations and permits for several indoor recreation programs, effective Tuesday Oct. 13. The list includes hockey games and scrimmages, instructional skating, swimming and dance programs. For a complete listing, click here.

– John