As we enter the weekend, we have again reached another concerning COVID-19 milestone - but before we get into that, I’m happy to say Happy Sukkot to all my constituents celebrating over the next seven days! I hope that everyone can find safe ways to celebrate this year as we mark yet another holiday in these difficult times.
This morning we reported a new single-day record in cases, with 732 across Ontario, including 323 here in Toronto.
As a response to this, Toronto’s medical officer of health has called on the province to introduce stricter measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 . Those restrictions include prohibiting indoor dining, only leaving your home for essential trips, and prohibiting all indoor fitness classes. This comes on the heels of her call earlier this week to end social bubbles.
However, the provincial government has instead come to the table with a different set of regulatory changes for three identified “hot spot” areas - Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel.
These changes include limiting the capacity of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to a maximum of 100 people (with physical distancing) and a maximum of 6 people per table. Customers are also mandated to provide contact information for contact tracing. They have also introduced a limit of 10 people for exercise classes and 50 people into gyms.
On top of that, the province is now advising Ontarians to put their social circles on pause and advising everyone to limit close contact only to those living in their own household. To read a full breakdown of the new recommendations from the provincial government you can click here.
Clearly, there is a difference in the approaches being offered by each level of government, and at this time, it is clear that the Ford government is reacting too slowly to what’s happening in our community. It is also very clear, that the government is desperately trying to keep some businesses operating in unsafe conditions because they refuse to provide the support that our small business community is going to need to survive COVID-19.
For months now, the Ontario NDP has been fighting for months for our Save Main Street Plan that would see small businesses receive 75% rent subsidies up to $10,000, a ban on commercial evictions until the pandemic is over, and a freeze on utility payments.
The measures that we have proposed would allow businesses to reduce their operations to a level that is safe and survive this pandemic. You can read more about the Save Main Street plan here.
Finally, today, I’m sending another reminder to everyone reading this to remember to be kind to yourself and take the time you need to process what’s happening right now in our midst. The modelling data shows that COVID-19 is likely to get worse before it gets better, and we all need to be emotional prepared for what is to come. This weekend, please make sure that you set some time away for self-care.