Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says that she doesn’t believe “any further restrictions or business closures” are warranted in her community at this time, even as the number of COVID-19 infections continues to surge in neighbouring Toronto.
Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has been lobbying the province to suspend indoor dining at bars and restaurants and prohibit group fitness classes and sports activities that take place indoors amid a resurgence of COVID-19 in the city.
Crombie, however, told reporters at a briefing on Thursday that public health officials in Peel have not yet seen a rise in cases linked to bars, restaurants and gyms and therefor don’t believe that placing further restrictions on those businesses would help arrest the spread of COVID-19.
“I cannot stress this enough. At this time we are not seeing transmission in bars, lounges, restaurants or gyms here in Peel,” she said. “While there have been some cases linked to workplaces for the most part they have not been public facing businesses and for that very reason I have stressed with the premier that I don’t think that any further restrictions or business closures are warranted or needed here in Mississauga at this time.”
Peel Region has reported the second highest number of cumulative cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, behind only Toronto.
But its daily counts of new infections have mostly flat lined over the last month, as case counts have surged in Toronto and Ottawa.
Public health officials in the region have also said that they are still able to trace the source of more than 80 per cent of new infections, suggesting that Peel has not yet entered the second wave of the pandemic.
Toronto Public Health, meanwhile, has been unable to keep up with the hundreds of new infections reported each day and has had to suspend much of its contact tracing efforts so that it can prioritize institutional outbreaks.
“The measures the province has put in place from limiting the size of social gatherings to reducing the indoor capacity at bars restaurants and event facilities adequately address our concerns here in Peel at this time,” Crombie said on Thursday.
“Peel’s challenges are different than those of Toronto and are also different from those of Ottawa. It is important that our actions and responses reflect our distinct realities.”
Infections still being traced back to social gatherings
Crombie said that Peel Region continues to see infections linked to weddings and social functions at banquet halls, as well as small get togethers with family and friends and gatherings at placed of worship.
Nonetheless, she stressed that there have not been a significant number of outbreaks tied to bars and restaurants, unlike in Toronto where 44 per cent of the outbreaks over a one-week period last month were traced back to that sector.
“Peel’s picture is high in terms of its transmission but it is also largely linked to known cases which is why our picture and our overall approach looks different from what is happening in Toronto and Ottawa at this time,” the region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said during the briefing.
“But let me state this very clearly. Peel continues to see high consistent levels of transmission and well these are mostly within known chains that can change at any moment. That means it is less important to focus on what to call our current situation and more important to talk about what we can do to protect ourselves and protect each other.”