A decision will be made in the next few days whether to continue to permit indoor dining in the City of Toronto as it contends with increasing coronavirus cases, Mayor John Tory said Wednesday, but Ontario's premier appears to be against the idea.
For the better part of a week, the City of Toronto has asked the province to allow them to end indoor dining and limit indoor gymnasium activity in a bid to curb rising levels of COVID-19.
The premier replied that his government would need "hard, hard evidence" before doing so due to the impact on business, not acknowledging that up to 44 per cent of recent outbreaks in Toronto have been tied to restaurants, bars or entertainment venues in recent weeks.
But Tory said Wednesday it is the public health experts, not the politicians who disagree about the measure.
"It's the experts not the politicians that are trying to bring together a consensus."
He said "very constructive, very intensive" discussions are underway with the province to seek a path forward, but everyone involved is aware of what closing indoor dining might do to restaurant and bar owners.
"It's a real agonizing decision we have to make based on that advice and on those recommendations based on the impact it would have on business," Tory said.
He said no agreement had been reached, but something may emerge before the weekend.
"Something will emerge out of this in the next day or two simply because time marches on," he said.
If a decision is coming soon, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said again he doesn't think closing indoor dining in Toronto, which he said contains at least 7,600 restaurants, is necessary.
"We are going to target the bad actors and we are going to make sure the Ministry of Labour is in there putting down some pretty heavy fines," Ford said Wednesday.
"We've put in the protocols to keep these places open. I believe the vast majority of them – out of the 7,600 businesses, even if you have 10 (employees) or less than 10 (employees), I can't put 76,000 people (out of work) and their livelihoods and just shut them down; they're barely hanging on by their finger nails right now."
'Ideal' if single person households stay by themselves this Thanksgiving
Tory also urged people to celebrate Thanksgiving with only members of their own household.
He said exceptions should not be made for university-aged children wishing to come home for the weekend.
When asked if single people who live alone should be apart from loved ones this year, he said in most cases, they should.
"That is the ideal," he said.
He said that only people who need regular visits from a caregiver or people with mental health concerns made worse by loneliness should be brought to Thanksgiving dinner this year.
This appears to contradict an example made by Ontario's Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe on Tuesday, who said her adult son would be joining her for Thanksgiving this weekend.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford reiterated that same guidance on Wednesday, saying single-person households can "pair-up."
"If you're alone, you can pair-up with one other household, but only one," he said.
Tory conceded the ability to go to a bar or restaurant with whoever you wish makes this advice harder to accept.
"That is an inconsistency, and the same is true for banquet halls," he said, adding that he hoped federal assistance would come for those businesses in the event they were ordered to close.