Tensions apparent in Ontario-Toronto approaches to COVID

They are trying their best to keep it polite and upbeat, but it is clear there is a growing gulf between the approaches the city of Toronto’s Chief Public Health Officer Eileen DeVilla and Dr. David William the Province’s top doctor, are recommending to deal with the current surge in COVID cases. DeVilla repeated again today that she thinks there should be a four week ban on dining in restaurants and bars as well as confining family gatherings to the immediate household. In her statement today she advised Torontonians to sharply limit their Thanksgiving plans suggesting that such a move may be necessary if there is to be any hope of a return to more normal family gatherings at Christmas.

Dr. Williams says the province needs time to assess the effects of the stricter measures it announced last week that nonetheless fell short of DeVilla’s recommendations. Premier Ford has always said he will listen to the advice of his health table which includes Dr. Williams, but he told reporters today that he is trying hard to keep the restaurants open because the industry is teetering on financial collapse, and that is no doubt part of the reason Dr. Williams has been hesitant to endorse De Villa’s suggestions.

Once again, the Premier said the widespread availability of COVID tests that provide almost immediate results would be a “game changer” and suggested there may be some positive news on that front soon. The bottom line: Dr. De Villa believes that a sharp four-week shutdown of indoor dining would flatten the current surge, but the province is also hearing from the restaurant industry who have told him they cannot survive such a cutback. Adding to the tension, Dr. DeVilla and Mayor John Tory believe that it will take a provincial order to implement the DeVilla plan, that Toronto Public Health lacks the authority, something the province has been so far reluctant to do.

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