patio toronto

Toronto says people should only be going to patios with members of their household

As cases of COVID-19 continue to reach alarming, record-breaking highs in both Toronto and the entirety of Ontario, city officials offered a very clear message to residents during their press briefing Thursday afternoon: Don't come in close contact with anyone you don't live with. 

Speaking to reporters, Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa emphasized the importance of only socializing with other members of one's household right now. And yes, that includes outdoor dining. 

"What every one of you can do is this: Don't become a case. The best way to do that is to follow the steps for self-protection, especially now," said Dr. de Villa. 

"Try to limit your contact only to the people you live with. So going grocery shopping? Yes. Taking the family along? No. Outdoor dining? Yes. With friends, rather than the family members you live with? No."

She repeatedly emphasized the need for all members of the public to hunker down and stop giving the virus new opportunities to spread from person to person if we're going avoid a hard lockdown like several European countries are experiencing right now

And, in a tone reminiscent of the worst days of the first wave, Tory said everyone in the city should be staying home as much as possible.

"Please stay home as much as you can," he said. "If you have any doubt about whether really you need to go somewhere or not, don't go, stay home. That is what we need to do. That is the right thing to do right now."

Residents are still encouraged to leave the house for essential reasons, such as work, school, medical appointments, exercise and essential shopping, but that's pretty much it. 

Dr. de Villa did clarify, however, that these are simply strong recommendations and are not enforceable by law. 

"Those are indeed strong recommendations from me as the medical officer of health. So this is advice that we're giving, strong recommendations, but they are not subject to enforcement," she explained. 

"We have seen, though, that the people of Toronto have been very good about taking advice, certainly in our experience in the past and over the course of the last several weeks, and we would anticipate that people in Toronto are interested in doing the best they can to protect their own health and the health of those around them by following that advice and following those strong recommendations."

Both Dr. de Villa and Tory's comments come after the province released new COVID-19 modelling today that suggests Ontario could see between 3,000 and 6,500 new cases per day by mid-December.

The advice from city officials also comes as Toronto is set to enter a modified version of the red level of the province's new framework this weekend, with indoor dining, indoor group fitness classes and other establishments/activities set to remain off limits as a result of additional restrictions mandated by the city.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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