A Toronto strip club where as many as 550 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 last week was not following public health guidelines, officials said Friday.
Toronto Public Health said the Brass Rail strip club in the city’s downtown was not following proper distancing guidelines during an inspection, and was not properly maintaining its customer log for contact tracing.
The agency said earlier Friday that an employee who worked the nights of August 4, 5, 7, and 8 had tested positive for the virus.
Contact tracing has been completed for all individuals who gave their information to the strip club upon entry, but the health agency said it was unable to confirm how many people supplied legitimate contact information.
All those who could be reached, along with their close contacts, have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days, public health officials said.
The employee who tested positive was working on the following dates and times:
- Aug. 4 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Aug. 5
- Aug. 5 from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Aug. 6
- Aug. 7 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Aug. 8
- Aug. 8 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Aug. 9
Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, said this is the first time the agency has had to conduct contact tracing since the region entered Stage 3 of reopening.
“As COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community and as we proceeded to Stage 3 of reopening… new cases are not unexpected,” Dubey said.
The agency said there is no reason to believe anyone who attended the strip club when the worker was not present would have been exposed to the virus.
Premier Doug Ford expressed disappointment that the venue was reported to contravene public health guidelines.
“They’ve got to follow the protocols,” Ford said. “I know it sounds crazy when you’re talking about the Brass Rail, but you just gotta do it.”
Ford further quipped that he felt sorry “for the people when they go to their house and then tell them that they were at the Brass Rail.”
“Sorry for the spouse, seriously,” he said.
Toronto Mayor John Tory, meanwhile, lauded the effectiveness of contact tracing and argued the incident reinforces the need for the practice.
“It proves why a contact log is something that is useful. It’s something that we fought to have in all of the rules and regulations as part of Stage 3,” he said.
“I just hope that the results of all the follow-up that TPH is doing shows that no one contracted the virus from this person.”