TORONTO (AP) — Public health officials on Friday said as many as 550 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 at a Toronto strip club last week and urged them to self-isolate for 14 days.
It is the first time city officials have issued such as warning since allowing nightclubs and restaurants to reopen, with social distancing restrictions, on July 31.
Toronto Public Health said a worker at the Brass Rail strip club on Yonge Street tested positive for the virus. Authorities said the employee, who they declined to identify what job the person had, worked on Aug. 4, 5, 7, and 8.
It said officials were contacting individuals who provided their information to the club upon entry and urged them, as well as those who had been in close contact with them, to self-isolate and get tested. Establishments are required to keep a customer log during the pandemic.
Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health, said the club was issued a notice of noncompliance and the city is working to ensure physical distancing measures are followed.
Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network, said strip clubs, nightclubs or bars should not be open until at least schools are up and running.
“We just know enough from everywhere that they are going to the sources of outbreaks,” Morris said. “I don't think people realize — 550 people potentially exposed. You know how long its going to take them to chase down 550 guys, half of which probably gave fake ID or information.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford wondered what conversations the men were going to have with their spouses.
"I feel sorry for people when they go to their house and tell them that they were at the Brass Rail,” Ford quipped to reporters. “That’s who I feel sorry for. Sorry for the spouse, seriously. Man, I wouldn’t want to be on the end of that one.”