social distancing toronto

Health officials praise Toronto bars and restaurants for near-total closure compliance

Cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus may still be on the rise across the city, the province, the country and the world, but Toronto business owners are doing their parts — and then some — to help slow down the global pandemic locally.

In her daily COVID-19 update briefing, City of Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa expressed how impressed she has been with the speedy actions of all bars, restaurants and other businesses that have been ordered to close amid the outbreak.

"Overall, we are observing that many businesses and many people in the city are complying with our recommendations around social distancing," she said during the press conference at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. de Villa explained that City staffers actually went out to survey business owners last night and "see how much compliance there was with respect to new orders," including the closure orders issued by Ontario Premier Doug Ford when he declared a province-wide state of emergency on Tuesday morning.

"When we went out to check that compliance, we found that only 4 per cent of the businesses we went out to look at were not in compliance," she said.

"This is amazing: Just hours after the order was issued, we had that level of compliance — and on St. Patrick's Day no less."

The doctor went on to thank city residents and business owners for respecting the crucial social distancing recommendations of public health officials, but said that even despite the incredible efforts put forth so far, we can still do better.

According to de Villa, seven new cases had been reported in Toronto since the city's last update. She expressed concern over the fact that local health officials are seeing an "increasing local transmission with 11 cases under investigation."

Compliance overall has been great, but de Villa specifically called out the following behaviours as examples of "not social distancing":

  • having your friends over for dinner or for coffee
  • arranging play dates for children  
  • visiting friends or family in long term care homes and hospital.
  • stopping at grocery store to stock up after travel — including to the U.S.

"Social distancing means keeping 6 feet apart to help prevent virus spread," she clarified. "Staying home, and only going out for the absolute essential needs, like food or medicine."

"Social distancing means reducing contact with others, working from home, helping your employees to either stay home or work from home [and] doing your grocery shopping online or maybe having somebody else do your groceries for you."

She admitted that this is a challenging time and that the concept of social distancing is new to us, but urged residents to stay away from each other as much as possible to slow the epidemic curve and potentially save lives.

"We need to practice social distancing seriously," she said. "This is really important."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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