Three Toronto restaurants ordered to close after allegedly breaking COVID-19 restrictions, city says

TORONTO — Health officials in Toronto are cracking down on a handful of bars and restaurants that appear to have broken the city’s public health restrictions aimed at combatting COVID-19.

In a news release issued Saturday morning, the city says three restaurants on King Street are now closed after they failed to take “the necessary steps to sufficiently protect both the public and employees from the spread of COVID-19.”

“Toronto Public Health (TPH) found a concerning link involving these locations where many people are connected to more than one of the businesses noted,” the city said. “In some cases, for example, people infected with COVID-19 were employed at more than one of these locations.”

According to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, investigators with the city also became aware of concerns regarding staff being pressured to work while ill at one of the locations and found that the operators of at least one business were “frequently uncooperative” with officials.

“In another instance, one of the businesses served food buffet style, which is clearly prohibited under existing provincial regulations to limit the spread of COVID-19,” she said while speaking to reporters on Friday.

The affected restaurants are located within walking distance of each other on King Street in downtown Toronto and have been identified as King Taps, Casa Mezcal and MARBL, which has been called out for violating public health guidelines in the past. 

In July, the popular Toronto restaurant was placed under investigation after a video released on social media appeared to show patrons and staff failing to follow COVID-19 public health rules.

At the time, MARBL confirmed that the video was authentic, but insisted it did not show the restaurant was breaking public health rules.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, MARBL said that they are complying with the order and are working with public health officials to reopen.

King Taps posted a similar statement to their Instagram page while saying that guests who visited the establishment on Sept. 6,9,10 or 11 “may wish” to contact Toronto Public Health.

Casa Mezcal has not yet publicly acknowledged the closure at time of writing.  

A fourth establishment is in the process of being served with a notice, but has not yet been identified by the city.

TPH said that the order will be lifted when Dr. de Villa is satisfied that each establishment has complied.

Mayor John Tory voiced his support for the order calling it a “real-time response” in the city’s effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I hope this enforcement will ensure we are protecting employees and customers,” he said. “Thankfully the vast majority of residents and businesses in our city are doing the right thing and following public health advice.”

With files from Katherine DeClerq and the Canadian Press.

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