Toronto city council unanimously voted Wednesday to implement further restrictions to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.
Councillors voted in favour of a plan, put forth earlier this week by Toronto’s medical officer of health, that will mainly affect restaurants and bars in the city.
Bars and restaurants will now be required to log contact information for every customer, not just one person in each party and the number of people allowed at a table will be limited to six.
As well, the number of people allowed inside a restaurant or bar at any one time will now be limited to 75, down from 100.
Establishments where music or any other background sounds are played are being ordered to keep the level no louder than “normal conversation” in order to prevent the spreading of droplets.
City council is also urging the province to mandate face coverings in workplaces where physical distancing is not possible.
The new temporary bylaw amendments will take effect on October 8.
These additional measures are on top of provincial restrictions placed on bars and restaurants last week, requiring them to stop serving alcohol by 11 p.m. and close at midnight, except for takeout and delivery, while ordering strip clubs to close immediately.
Mayor John Tory called it a tough decision but says it’s one that has to be balanced to keep people healthy and maintain economic stability.
“We’re doing what we believe is right. We are recommending what we believe is right. All of these things fit into that category,” said Tory.
“We’re certainly only doing it after a very careful assessment done daily about the consequences these types of things have, because they do have consequences.”
In response to concerns that these added restrictions will further negatively impact an already struggling food service industry, Tory has suggested further supports, such as providing winter patios and requesting additional financial support from the federal government.
The city is also going to ask the province to extend orders that permit the sale of alcohol as part of takeout and delivery orders into next year and that all commercial evictions be paused until the “COVID-19 resurgence eases.”
City council also voted to extend the current temporary bylaws covering physical distancing in public spaces and mandatory mask or face coverings until the first meeting of 2021.
Councillor’s also approved a motion put forth by Board of Health chair Joe Cressy that directs the medical officer of health to consider any additional measures with gyms and fitness studios as possibly the next targets if transmission rates continue to climb.
City health officials reported 321 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday with the total number of cases falling just short of 20,000.