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Ontario closes strip clubs, limits restaurant hours as new COVID-19 cases remain high

Friday, September 25, 2020 @ 3:26 PM | By John Schofield


The Ontario government is taking immediate action to close strip clubs, reduce bar hours and limit alcohol sales in an effort to battle back persistently high COVID-19 cases.

The amendment to order O.Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 26, across the entire province, according to a Sept. 25 government news release.

The amended order will prohibit the sale of alcohol at restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other food and drink establishments after 11 p.m., and will ban the consumption of alcohol (including by employees) on those premises from 12 midnight to 9 a.m. each day. Establishments will be required to close to all guests from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., except for takeout and delivery.

All strip clubs in Ontario will be required to close completely. The amended order also compels all businesses and organizations to comply with advice, recommendations or instructions on COVID-19 screening issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The new measures come amid a steady increase in new COVID-19 cases and reports that parts of Canada, including Ontario, are now in the second wave of the pandemic. The government news release noted that private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many communities, as well as outbreaks at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including strip clubs. Most cases have been in the 20 to 39 age range, the release added.

Ontario reported 409 new cases on Sept. 25, with almost half being recorded in Toronto. That brings the provincial total to 48,905. New cases have numbered more than 400 for five of the past seven days.

The government recently imposed new limits on private, unmonitored social gatherings across the province of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.

But “as the number of cases has continued to rise, it is evident that, despite the tremendous efforts of Ontarians, further action is required to prevent the spread of the virus,” Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott said in the news release.

“On the advice of Ontario’s public health officials, we are moving forward with these measures to help keep Ontarians safe by limiting the potential for exposure in locations where the current risk of transmission is higher, and to avoid future lockdowns. Protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians will always remain our top priority.”

The government also announced that it will work with municipalities and other partners to encourage increased enforcement of existing businesses, facilities, workplaces and other establishments to comply with all public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions under its stage 3 regulations.

On Sept. 22, Premier Doug Ford and his government started releasing a plan for the second wave of the pandemic titled Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. It includes an expanded flu vaccination campaign in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories. The province has ordered 5.1 million flu vaccine doses, 700,000 more than usual, states the news release. The second-wave plan also calls for improved and expanded testing and contact tracing. On Sept. 25, testing at selected pharmacies started by appointment for those not showing symptoms but who have come into contact with someone with a confirmed case or who meet other criteria.

Government figures show that, as of Sept. 25, there were 238 school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario — an increase of 29 from the previous day — and there were 32 current outbreaks at long-term care homes.

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for The Lawyer’s Daily please contact John Schofield at john.schofield@lexisnexis.ca or call 905-415-5891.