Medical Officer of Health issues Section 22 order to strengthen COVID-19 protections in Toronto

November 13, 2020

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has now issued an order under Section 22 of the Province of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act, as announced on Tuesday, November 10, to strengthen COVID-19 protections in the city.

As of 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, November 14, the order will come into force as the Province of Ontario places Toronto into the Red – Control category of the provincial COVID-19 response framework. The order extends prohibitions on indoor dining and indoor group fitness classes, and requires casinos, bingo halls, gambling establishments, meeting and event spaces (including banquet halls and conference centres), as well as hookah cafes and lounges to remain closed for a 28-day period.

The spread of COVID-19 has never been greater in Toronto, making clear the city is facing a serious risk and that more action is required to protect our community. There are 33,755 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 458 new cases today. There are 173 people hospitalized. In total, 28,129 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,438 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform: www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/covid-19-status-of-cases-in-toronto/.

Under the provincial Health Protection and Promotion Act, a Medical Officer of Health can, by written order, require a person to take or refrain from taking a specified action in respect of a communicable disease, such as COVID-19. Dr. de Villa has previously issued a class order, amended on Friday, November 6, 2020, requiring individuals who have COVID-19, are not hospitalized, have symptoms and are waiting for test results, or have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, to self-isolate at home or in an isolation facility. The new order complements measures for individuals and businesses subject to the Province’s response framework. Individuals are also strongly encouraged to follow the Medical Officer of Health’s recommendations.

Medical Officer of Health instructions to businesses and recommendations to the public

  • Limit all social gatherings and close contact to household members only, with a maximum of two essential supports (i.e. personal support worker)
  • Limit in-person activities outside the home to essential activities only – going to work or school, health care, shopping for your household and health needs and getting exercise and physical activity
  • All persons to wear masks while using weights and exercise machines in gyms
  • Businesses and workplaces to implement work from home wherever possible
  • Businesses and workplaces to review heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure they are in good working order
  • Businesses and workplaces to appoint a compliance officer to ensure implementation of occupational health and safety and infection prevention and control measures
  • Malls and other stores to prohibit the consumption of food and drink by patrons while walking through the premise.

New Medical Officer of Health order

  • Indoor consumption of food and drink by patrons remains prohibited at restaurants, bars and food or drink establishments
  • Meeting and event spaces, including banquet halls, are closed, as are casinos, bingo halls, other gaming establishments and hookah cafes and lounges
  • Indoor group fitness and exercise classes remain prohibited.

Other regulations and orders

The City’s enforcement team is preparing to enforce the new COVID-19 protections coming into effect this Saturday. The team’s goal remains protecting the health and safety of everyone in Toronto and educating the public and businesses on the new legislation. The team works to help businesses and individuals understand shifting regulations and uses discretion to issue fines and penalties for continued or deliberate non-compliance. Guidance for businesses and community organizations is available online at www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-reopening-recovery-rebuild/covid-19-reopening-guidelines-for-businesses-organizations/.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.