Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

GTA’s latest suspected and confirmed Omicron cases include an employee at a cafe in downtown Toronto, prompting public health authorities to warn customers of possible exposure to the COVID-19 variant.

The warning applies to anyone who visited Piccolo Caffe E Vino at 111 John St., last weekend between 6 p.m. 21:00 on 26 November and at 02.00 on 27 November and between kl. 21:00 on 27 November and at

“The case related to this company is under investigation by TPH as a suspected case of the Omicron variant due to the individual’s recent travel history to South Africa,” Toronto Public Health said in a press release on Friday.

“There is no risk to anyone attending the establishment outside of these dates and times,” the public health agency said, adding that it contacts the cafe worker’s close contacts and asks them to isolate themselves for 10 days and be tested.

Restaurants offering indoor dining are required by provincial law to collect contact information of diners, but Piccolo Caffe E Vino kept no such log.

TPH asks “out of an abundance of caution” to anyone who visited the cafe during these times to be tested immediately and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days after the visit to the cafe and to isolate themselves if any symptoms.

Researchers around the world are finding out whether Omicron is more contagious than COVID-19’s now dominant Delta strain, and whether the new variant is better than Delta at overcoming defenses against the virus from vaccines.

Brian Connelly, the cafe’s owner, said his fully vaccinated staff had carefully checked diners ‘vaccination status and identification and wiped surfaces off, but acknowledged they had not collected diners’ contact information.

He said he mistakenly believed that provincially issued QR codes, used by some people instead of paper vaccination certificates, automatically logged contact data.

“There are hundreds of places around town that do not do half of the things we do,” Donnelly said. “We try to follow everything according to the book, but there was one thing we did not do – it’s hard, man, for small businesses.”

The cafe remains open, but all staff working with the COVID-19-infected person isolate themselves for 10 days, he added.

Tony Elenis, executive director of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, said that “the vast majority” of eateries follow protocols, including logging patron information, but “there are accidental errors sometimes.”

Regarding the fear of the Omicron variant, Elenis said: “It is too early to know the impact on our industry. We went through this with the (now dominant) Delta variant.

“I think it’s a big bump in the road, not a roadblock.”

As public health officials from various agencies called on all eligible residents to be fully vaccinated for maximum protection against infection and serious illness, new local Omicron cases include a child in the York region.

The York health authorities said that “the case is travel-related from the South African region. The young people, under 12 years of age from the city of Vaughan, returned to Canada on November 22 and have isolated themselves at home since then.

This follows news on Thursday about the first Omicron cases in the GTA – a resident of the Durham region and a resident of the Halton region, both linked to recent travel.

On Friday, the Durham region confirmed its second case of the variant.

Toronto Public Health said both Durham cases are linked to an outbreak at the Toronto East Detention Center.

The first Durham resident to test positive is working at the Toronto East Detention Center in Scarborough, where officials reported four inmates tested positive for COVID-19.

TPH officials said Friday that they are awaiting test results to see if the inmates have the Omicron variant.

With files from the Canadian press

David Rider is the bureau chief of Star’s City Hall and a reporter covering town hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider

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