Coronavirus updates: Province, John Tory give blessing to return of NHL in Toronto

Minister of Sport Lisa MacLeod and Mayor John Tory say return of the league will be boost to Toronto's economy; plus, city pledges to fast-track curb lane patios; feds issue warning on domestic, international travel


Lisa MacLeod, the province’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries says she welcomes the National Hockey League’s announcement designating Toronto (along with Edmonton) as a hub city for continuation of the NHL season. The league suspended play shortly after the declaration of emergency measures to arrest the spread of the coronavirus back in March.

“It’s thanks to Ontarians’ hard work following public health measures and maintaining social distancing over the past four months that have made the return of professional hockey possible,” MacLeod said in a statement released on the decision on Saturday.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, was reportedly a driving force behind Toronto’s inclusion in cities to host games. Two other U.S.-based cities were also announced.

Despite surprise expressed in some sports quarters of the choice of Toronto – some sports commentators offered that the logistics make Toronto too big a city to host games – MacLeod expressed confidence in protocols that will be put in place to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. Mayor John Tory also expressed support for the news.

He says having the city host games, although they will not be played in front of fans, will be a critical boost to Toronto’s economy, particularly the hotel sector which has been ravaged by the collapse of tourism related to the pandemic.

City cranks up curb lane patio program

The City of Toronto is moving to fast-track the expansion of outdoor patios and dining space for local restaurants and bars to help mitigate the financial effects of COVID-19.

So far, 47 curb lane closures have been allowed to permit some 73 restaurants room to expand outdoors since the city approved its CaféTO program on June 29.

But the City is promising to expedite new installations this week as it works with a number of BIAs and restaurant associations to identify more areas that can accommodate sidewalk cafés and parklets. The City reports that site-specific technical requirements are causing delays in some areas.

On July 9, the City received a new Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) from the province that eases zoning restrictions on outdoor patios as well as allowing for the expansion of patios on private property, including parking areas. The MZO expires on November 16.

Feds issue warning on domestic, international travel

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise globally, Canadians are being advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada and all cruise ship travel until further notice.

Howard Njoo, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, said by way of a statement released today in lieu of the government’s daily coronavirus press briefing that Canadians also travelling inside the country, whether in their home province or territory or across provincial borders, should continue to exercise caution.

“Each individual traveller must consider the risk of exposure to COVID-19 throughout the entire duration of their trip including all stops along the way and while in transit,” Njoo says.

Njoo advises travellers to be aware of different restrictions, quarantine or self-isolation requirements when travelling to a different country or a different province or territory within Canada. On buses, trains or planes Njoo says wearing a mask or face covering is a must and recommends carrying hand sanitizer.

For those heading to cottage country or anyone of the numerous campgrounds or Parks Canada locations that have resumed services, Njoo reminds travellers that “There is no single epidemic in Canada, but a series of local epidemics.” Which means, the risk of infection is different in different places.

Those travelling from more populated areas to rural communities, for example, may pose more of a risk to those communities. As a precaution, Njoo advises bringing your own food and other supplies to minimize interactions with others on your excursions.

According to the latest numbers, there are currently 107,347 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Some 8,773 have died from the virus and more than 66 per cent of people who have contracted the virus have recovered.

@nowtoronto

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