Stricter COVID-19 measures come into effect in York Region
TORONTO -- Stricter public health measures came into effect for York Region Monday in an attempt by the Ontario government to tackle what has been described as an "alarming" surge in COVID-19 cases.
The region joins Toronto, Peel and Ottawa in observing a modified set of Stage 2 restrictions that prohibit indoor dining at restaurants and force gyms, fitness studios and movie theatres to close their doors.
“Just about a month ago we were averaging about 20 cases per day -- now we are averaging over 80 per day,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health.
“It is very important that we do everything possible to minimize the transmission of the virus in places where it may be a challenge where people gather.”
John Servinis is a cook at Café ‘N’ One in Markham and said that he noticed the impact of the new restrictions within hours of opening the restaurant.
“With the new restrictions coming we’ve only had one order this morning,” Servinis told CTV News Toronto. “It’s pretty frustrating, we just opened in April and business was just starting to pick up.”
The restaurant doesn’t have a patio and said it will rely solely on takeout to sustain the business for at least the next 28 days.
“50 per cent or more [business] is from [indoor] dining,” said owner Daisey Pun. “We will try our best to survive.”
Also, public gatherings can be no larger than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Local banquet halls say staff have been dealing with parties and events being cancelled or postponed.
“There’s no real date anyone wants to postpone to because everyone is just hesitating,” said Nadiya Dyachuck, who is a manager at Casa Ricca Banquet Hall in Vaughan.
Confusion over fitness restriction
While gyms and yoga studios closed Monday some boxing and kickboxing facilities remained open for limited training.
According to the province's rules for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities, facilities may open if they comply with conditions including not providing fitness, exercise or dance classes, no use of weights or exercise machines, no spectators, maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres, no practice or play for team sports and any activities likely to have individuals come within two metres of each others are prohibited.
“As long as we can comply with the modifications in the modified Stage 2 we are allowed to be open,” said Jennifer Huggins of Boxing Ontario, who says clubs have made adjustments to training for their clients in order to follow the regulations.
“The idea is you’re able to work on technical movements, foot work movements, shadowing boxing, where people are doing technical drills,” she said.
CTV News asked York Region Public Health and the province for clarification.
“My understanding from reading the regulations is that individual training is permitted,” said Dr. Kurji. “We do need to look into that more.”
Provincial officials did not provide an answer, instead deferred the question to the local health unit.