Ford facing internal anger over closure of indoor dining and gyms
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford is facing internal backlash over the COVID-19 public health restrictions, after new data revealed that bars, restaurants and gyms have not been significant known sources of outbreaks.
A detailed sector-by-sector breakdown, presented to the public on Thursday, pointed to schools, daycares, long-term care and retirement homes as the primary source of outbreaks.
Between Aug. 1 and Oct. 24, bars and restaurants accounted for 14 per cent of the overall outbreaks in Toronto, while gyms represented just three per cent of the total outbreaks during that time.
That being said, in Toronto 65 per cent of cases had no epidemiological link, meaning that public health officials could not pinpoint a source.
Sources in the Progressive Conservative government say there is anger among some caucus members, because MPPs have specifically been asking public health officials for a detailed breakdown of where new cases have been originating from, and only received that information when it was made public on Thursday.
"Yesterday was the first time that caucus saw any numbers that were broken down by setting," one source told CTV News Toronto, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
The data has led to internal questions about whether Ford and his cabinet had access to the granular data before moving Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Ottawa back into a modified Stage 2.
Sources in Ford’s office said while the decision makers have had access to sector-related outbreak information in the past, the collated data was presented to cabinet for the first time on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Dr. Williams defended his modified Stage 2 recommendations and pointed to the risk posed at bars, restaurants and gyms.
"We didn't particularly pick one site or another," Dr. Williams said. "We are picking those settings where its indoors, where people are unable to mask for a long periods of time."
Despite those low numbers, however, the sectors have been the target of second-wave restrictions. Bars and restaurants are closed for indoor dining in hotspot regions, as well as gyms and movie theatres.
The Ford government, however, is hitting the reset button on how the provincial COVID-19 data is presented to the public.
The Dalla Lana School of Public Health, which has been responsible for the province’s pandemic projections, will be given a weekly platform to present the data alongside Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and Dr. Dirk Huyer, who leads the outbreak response.