Toronto health officials say all bars and nightclubs must close immediately
In an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19 amidst a global pandemic outbreak, the City of Toronto is officially recommending that all bars, dine-in restaurants, nightclubs, and theatres close until further notice.
Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, made the "strong" reccomendations during a press conference at City Hall on Monday afternoon, noting that they will be effective as of 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.
Nightclubs, movie theatres and stadiums are being asked to shut down completely in an effort to halt the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus in Toronto, which just reported its first community-transmitted cases today.
Restaurants and cafes that serve food are encouraged to continue providing takeout and delivery options, but are asked to close down their in-person dining rooms completely.
"In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, I am also strongly recommending that all nightclubs, moving theatres and stadiums close as soon as possible," said de Villa during today's press conference.
Bars and clubs that fail to comply with the reccomendations by midnight may be subject to serious penalties, said de Villa, who has the power to issue closure orders to individual establishments under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
When asked what kind of penalties non-compliant establishments could expect, de Villa said those found guilty of defying orders under the health protection act can face fines as high as $25,000 per day.
We are following the advice of our public health professionals to make sure we are doing everything possible to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and protect our residents and our city.— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 16, 2020
"Many restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and theatres have already taken the important step of voluntarily closing their doors to the seated public during the pandemic response," reads a press release from the City of Toronto issued Monday.
"Dr. de Villa is encouraging the rest of the industry to follow that example for the health of our entire community."
A total of 76 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus had been confirmed in Toronto, 177 cases confirmed in Ontario, and 345 confirmed cases across Canada as of early Monday.
The World Health Organization's latest numbers put the case tally at 153,517 globally with a total of 5,735 deaths.
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