doug ford mark mcewan

Doug Ford claps back at Toronto's famous celebrity chef over restaurant lockdown

The measures that have been implemented to attenuate the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario have sparked months of tension between those who believe restrictions should be loosened for the sake of businesses, people and the economy at large, and those who feel things could be locked down even further.

Premier Doug Ford has served as the surprisingly solacing face of the province's fight against the pandemic, turning to his panel of health officials to determine what has to be done — and making people mad in the process, no matter the decision.

Since select hotspot regions of Ontario were just plunged back into an amended version of Stage 2 lockdown two weeks ago — something many citizens and experts were calling for — there has been a slew of backlash against Ford and his team for how they are handling the second wave of the health crisis.

One of those who has recently spoken out on the matter is celebrity chef and restaurateur Mark McEwan, who tweeted his feelings about Ford's re-implementation of stringent rules for bars and restaurants yesterday.

"Doug Ford needs to lead Ontario back to work safely. Shut downs are a mistake. Do the right thing and lead the economy back!" the proprietor of Toronto's ONE Restaurant (and many other places around town) said on the social media platform. "BOLD LEADERSHIP... Be brave Doug Ford."

He also spoke to NEWSTALK 1010 on the topic earlier this week, telling the outlet "when you look at the totality of the numbers, to me they don't justify shutting down the economy... I think the shutdown is incredibly fiscally unhealthy, but also mentally unhealthy."

"I'm convinced that with proper protocol, as we've been able to do in retail and restaurants, to manage yourself correctly, we can go back to work safely."

Ford was confronted with McEwan's comments during his daily press conference on Friday, and was quick and to the point in his response: "I have a great deal of respect for Mark McEwan, he's a great entrepreneur, one of the great restaurant owners... but unfortunately, Mark's not a medical professional," he told reporters.

He went on to cite the hard data he and his team have used to justify the recent ban on indoor dining, gym operations and more in Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and York regions.

"We see the numbers going up and we're concerned about that. We're over 800 cases today and we're down to only five regions in the province that don't have any cases," he said.

"I respect what he's saying, but again, we have to focus on the health and safety of everyone across the province."

Health Minister Christine Elliott likewise stated that she understands McEwan's frustration and how hard this time has been for floundering business owners, adding:

"We know there is community transmission happening in some restaurants and bars... we need to have this lockdown in those areas. The evidence says that if we take these steps now, it prevents us having to go into a longer period of lockdown with more economic shutdown."

The most recent COVID-19 stats in the province show an additional 826 new cases on Friday, making for 6,474 active cases in total among a population of about 14.5 million.

Eighty-six per cent of all of the province's infections so far are considered resolved, while 4.5 per cent have resulted in death. Testing remains high, and per cent positivity — that is, the proportion of those tested who do in fact have the virus — has been slowly rising in some regions, such as Toronto, where it sat at 4.4 per cent as of Wednesday, up 1.3 per cent from just two days earlier.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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