Mayor says “no evidence” to suggest Mississauga needs to be rolled back to Stage 2
Business owners and their loyal patrons likely breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday when the province announced that changes to gathering limits would not extend to restaurants, bars, theatres, gyms or retail stores.
After Premier Doug Ford announced that gathering limits would be lowered to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors in Peel (Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon), Toronto and Ottawa to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie spoke out in favour of the change and echoed her Sept. 16 assertion that there's no need to send Mississauga back to stage 2.
"I want to thank the premier for acting to address the rise in cases in Peel Region, Toronto and Ottawa by announcing further restrictions on gathering limits for organized public events and social gatherings," Crombie said in a statement posted to her website.
"While I do not want to see Mississauga regress, I understand that our region as a whole is struggling, and we need to work together to limit the impacts a second wave. We have been working diligently to hold on to the gains we have made here in Mississauga, with an average of 15 daily cases over the past week. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that Peel needs to be rolled back any further to Stage 2."
A rollback to Stage 2, which some residents have been calling for on social media, would necessitate the closure of gyms, movie theatres, many indoor recreational spaces and indoor dining rooms—places public health officials insist new cases are not coming from.
In a statement, Crombie said that focusing on large social gatherings makes sense, as evidence suggests that 80 per cent of all new cases in Peel are being acquired in community or household settings.
At a Sept. 17 press conference, Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel's Medical Officer of Health, said that new cases have been linked to travel, workplace exposures, household clusters and social gatherings.
"People are acquiring the disease at work and bringing it out to dinner with friends, and those friends then bring it home with them and perhaps to a family member who then takes it to work," Loh said, adding that the majority of new cases are being found in people between 20 and 39 years of age.
Loh also said that employers need to do their part to allow for physical distancing, frequent handwashing and masking in the workplace.
"The vast majority of our residents do the right thing every day. I’m also not saying that the choice to socialize or party is driving everything. It’s also certain that there are some workplaces that are not taking precautions to protect their workers," Loh said, adding that employers should adhere to public health rules and keep contact tracing logs.
"We have seen the virus spread quickly in settings where people cannot work from home and where crowding and numbers have not been managed with precautions," Loh said.
"This is common in facilities such as manufacturing or food processing plants, as well as in transport and logistics facilities."
Loh's comments came days after Peel Public Health confirmed that 60 recent COVID-19 cases are linked to an outbreak at a manufacturing facility in Mississauga.
Peel Public Health has declined to name the business, citing privacy concerns.
"Peel Public Health would always disclose the name of a workplace if there was a risk to the public or if we needed people to come forward for contact tracing," Dr. Monica Hau, Associate Medical Officer of Health, said in a statement emailed to insauga.com on Sept. 10.
"No public notification is needed for workplaces where we have the names of all close contacts identified in our investigation. This is consistent with Provincial guidelines for workplace outbreaks. This also supports the privacy of the people who test positive and the businesses that employ them."
In her Sept. 17 statement, Crombie said that she's heard "far too many stories" regarding "irresponsible" behaviour at private backyard barbeques, weddings and smaller get-togethers.
"When interacting with friends or families outside of your bubble of 10, it's important to remember that the Core 4 still applies - stay apart, lather up, mask up and get tested," she wrote.
During an earlier press conference, Crombie also said she's heard stories about people violating the mandated 14-day quarantine upon returning to Canada.
"[I've heard] far too many stories about travellers ignoring mandatory isolation requirements. If you're returning home, you need to isolate for 14 days—not 12, not 13—14, no exceptions," Crombie said.
"No stopping for gas or groceries on the way home or to your cottage if you plan to isolate there. If you need a safe space [to isolate], there are supports available to you."
In her statement, Crombie thanked the province for allowing businesses to continuee to operate in Peel.
"I want to thank the premier for ensuring that our business community is not negatively impacted by the new gathering limits. Our businesses have been working diligently to closely implement public health protocol to ensure a safe reopening for their employees and customers. As a result, we have not seen high rates of transmission in public-facing businesses in Peel Region," she wrote, adding that bylaw officers will work with Peel police to enforce the new gathering limits.
On Sept. 17, Ford promised stiff penalties for anyone who hosts or attends an illegal gathering, adding that a party host could be fined $10,000. He also said guests could face fines up to $750.
The new rules also allow police officers, special constables or First Nations constables or break up any gatherings that violate prescribed gathering limits.
Gatherings of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors will continue to be permitted in all other parts of the province.
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