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Restrictions for restaurants, strip clubs tightened as COVID-19 cases rise

The changes take effect Saturday

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, Ontario is tightening public health measures.

The new rules affect restaurants and bars, as well as strip clubs.

Effective Saturday, Sept. 26 at 12:01 a.m., restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments such as nightclubs are banned from selling alcohol after 11 p.m. Alcohol is not allowed to be consumed on their premises between midnight and 9 a.m. The businesses must also be closed by midnight and stay closed until 5 a.m., except for takeout and delivery.

All strip clubs across the province will be closed. 

Businesses and organizations are also required to comply with advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for COVID-19 screening, including screening people entering the premises.

Today, for the second-consecutive day, Public Health Ontario reported 409 new COVID-19 cases.

The provincial announcement notes that a "significant source of transmission" of the rise in cases over the past five weeks has been private social gatherings, as well as outbreak clusters in restaurants and other food and drink establishments, and strip clubs. Most of the cases are in the 20-39 age group.

Last week, the province set new limits for social gatherings — 10 people for indoors and 25 people outdoors. It does not apply to commercial facilities such as event spaces, gyms, and church gatherings. 

"As the number of cases have continued to rise, it is evident that despite the tremendous efforts of Ontarians further action is required to prevent the spread of the virus," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a 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 wellbeing of Ontarians will always remain our top priority."

The announcement also notes the province will work with municipalities and "other partners to encourage increased enforcement of existing businesses, facilities, workplaces, etc. to comply with all public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in the Stage 3 regulation."