Indoor dining in Toronto to stay closed until December as city moves to COVID-19 red zone
TORONTO -- Toronto will move to the red zone of Ontario's COVID-19 tiered shutdown system and will tighten restrictions even further, forcing indoor dining to remain closed until at least mid-December.
People are also strongly encouraged to restrict all social gatherings with people who live outside their own home.
Starting Nov. 14, the city will move to the red phase of the province's shutdown system. It is the last step of the tiered system before a full lockdown.
Indoor fitness classes will also be banned. Gyms can open only if there are fewer than 10 people indoors.
Toronto will also require the continued closure of meeting and event spaces, casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
Indoor movie theatres are also required to stay closed in the red zone.
Toronto will remain in the red zone for 28 days starting on Nov. 14, meaning the earliest businesses could reopen is on Dec. 12.
The red zone of Ontario's COVID-19 framework does not require indoor dining to close but Toronto has taken the additional step to do so.
"I want to warn you in the plainest possible terms, COVID-19 is out there at levels that we have not seen before," Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said on Tuesday. "The trend is upward."
"I recognize that these actions will have economic impacts and I am truly sorry for this. I really am. However, in my professional opinion the greatest harm would be to allow COVID-19 to continue to spread at this rate."
Toronto officials said the city recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with 533 new cases in the previous 24-hours period.
The province uses a slightly different time frame for reporting cases and therefore logged a slightly lower but still alarming number of 520 cases for Toronto on Tuesday.
The city added nearly 2,000 new cases in the past four days. Toronto's COVID-19 test positivity rate has now spiked to 5.9 per cent.
"You should assume it (COVID-19) is everywhere," de Villa said. "Without proper precautions and protections you are at risk of infection."
Peel Region is the only other region in the province that has been placed in the red category of Ontario's tiered system.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for the region, imposed his own restrictions over the weekend.
They include further limitations on indoor dining and gym activity. All birthday parties, wedding receptions and other large gatherings have been prohibited.
Residents of Peel Region have also been told not to interact with people outside their households.
An earlier version of this story said that gyms will remain closed under the restrictions. Indoor fitness classes are banned but gyms can reopen with fewer than 10 people indoors.