News Release
March 16, 2020

Today, as part of the City of Toronto’s ongoing response to COVID-19, Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa is strongly recommending all bars, dine-in restaurants, nightclubs, and theatres close to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 effective 12:01 a.m., March 17, 2020.

Businesses that provide food takeout and delivery options are encouraged to keep those options available to continue to provide the public with food options while limiting social interactions between people.

Many restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and theatres have already taken the important step of voluntarily closing their doors to the seated public during the pandemic response. Dr. de Villa is encouraging the rest of the industry to follow that example for the health of our entire community.

Dr. de Villa warned that if businesses fail to comply with the recommendation, she will issue orders to individual establishments under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Dr. de Villa is recommending this unprecedented step to protect the health and safety of all Toronto residents, and to further encourage residents to undertake social distancing – limiting their interactions with other residents to avoid the possibility of spreading COVID-19 through the community. Every social interaction that doesn’t happen will further prevent the spread of COVID-19 and avoid people carrying the virus to vulnerable residents of our city, including seniors and people with pre-existing health conditions.

This is a critical time to flatten the growth curve of COVID-19 in our community and Toronto Public Health, along with the City of Toronto, is committed to doing everything possible based on the expert advice of public health professionals to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Toronto Public Health continues to encourage all residents to stay home if possible and reduce their interactions with other people. As well, residents who have travelled outside of Canada, including to the United States, are strongly encouraged by Toronto Public Health to self-isolate for 14 days.

Many residents that work frontline jobs in healthcare and emergency services can’t work from home. Dr. de Villa said the measures being urged today, provided the public follows them, will help protect those frontline workers and allow them to continue to do their jobs.

The City is also working to address the economic impact of COVID-19. The Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force was launched Monday along with the announcement of several measures aimed at providing immediate economic relief. The City is also exempting retail businesses from its Noise Bylaw to facilitate after-hour deliveries.

311 and the Toronto Public Health Hotline are experiencing a very high volume of calls. Answers to the many questions residents have are available at, including a full list of COVID-19 related City cancellations and closures. By using this online resource, wait times on the phone can be reduced, allowing staff to address more complex questions.  

The City’s website will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. People are encouraged to check back often for the latest information on programs and services.


“I believe these unprecedented public health recommendations are necessary in order to protect the health of all Toronto residents. Every opportunity to avoid interactions with others helps to prevent the spread of this disease. Every interaction avoided helps to flatten the curve. So, if you can, stay home, help out our city by reducing your interaction with others. Every little bit counts.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

“I support Dr. de Villa’s strong recommendation for restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres to close their in-house options and focus on delivery and takeout services. We are following the advice of our public health professionals to make sure we are doing everything possible to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and protect our residents and our city. I encourage all Toronto residents to practice social distancing as much as possible to protect their health and the health of their loved ones and neighbours.”
– Mayor John Tory

“I know that all of this information, and the changes to our daily routines and schedules, is a lot to absorb and adapt to. I want residents to know that at Toronto Public Health and the City of Toronto we are prepared, we will continue to act quickly, and we will not let our residents down.”
– City Councillor and Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy

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