Toronto Mayor John Tory is urging Ontario Premier Doug Ford to enact stricter measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in indoor dining or bar settings, pointing to the experiences of other countries.
In a letter sent to the Premier, Tory says he wants a new rule for Toronto restricting dining patrons from getting up out of the chairs except for arriving, leaving the premises, paying or going to and from the bathroom.
He also wants to require restaurant operators to keep a log of all patrons and their contact details for up to 30 days, have last call at midnight instead of 2 a.m. for a period of time and mandate restaurant and bar staff undergo health screening questions before the start of each shift.
Tory also asked Ford to outline mask requirements for staff and patrons in provincial regulations.
His letter referred to the experiences of southern U.S. states and South Korea, where large clusters of infection have been traced back to people congregating in bars.
“People are standing up, they’re talking, they start talking a bit louder when they’ve had a drink or two,” Tory told CP24 on Sunday.
“I love to stand and chat with people in a bar too, but not now.”
A large swath of Ontario was able to begin indoor dining and service in bars on Friday.
Toronto, the GTA, and select parts of southwestern Ontario have been held back until their COVID-19 case growth declines further.
Tory said some have been pressing him to delay the opening of bars indefinitely due to the risk they pose for COVID-19 infection.
Ontario’s Medical Association has said the province needs to reconsider opening bars as they present a high risk for transmission of the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott responded on Twitter saying she “appreciates” the recommendations and will keep working with Mayor Tory as the city awaits word it can enter Stage 3 of reopening.