Gas chains cutting prices to encourage Toronto travel in anti-SARS promotion

Some city gas stations will cut their prices to 49.9 cents per litre this weekend in an offer intended to encourage travel around Toronto. Imperial Oil and Petro-Canada both said they will both sell discounted gasoline through Sunday night.

Imperial also said it would donate five cents from every litre purchased during the weekend "to support health care in Toronto."

Toronto's tourism and hospitality sector has been badly hit by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a recently discovered and sometimes fatal disease that attacks the respiratory system.

Dozens of people in the Greater Toronto Area have been afflicted since March, and thousands more have undergone voluntary quarantines. The disease is considered contagious when an infected person is in close contact with others.

All of Canada's 23 SARS-related fatalities have occurred in the Greater Toronto Area.

The outbreak led to a warning last week from the World Health Organization against travel to Toronto. Although the advisory was lifted Wednesday, the outbreak is still expected to cost the Toronto economy up to $1 billion.