Cellphone, traffic data show people "moving around more" in Toronto: Tory

Feb 22 2021, 3:06 pm

Torontonians may not be following the city’s Stay at Home order as closely as they should.

At a press briefing on February 22, Mayor John Tory said that recent traffic and mobile phone data showed increased movement in the city.

“People are in fact starting to move around more, perhaps thinking, incorrectly, that improving case counts mean that is okay,” Tory said. “Unfortunately, it is not okay.”

Based on a report from Transportation Services, the mayor noted that city-wide traffic volumes increased “significantly” in the mornings last week.

Tory said this was likely a result of schools resuming in-class learning on February 16, as a similar pattern was observed at the start of the school year in September 2020.

Average travel times were also higher in the city last week, which may have been caused by the heavy snowfall.

He clarified that the collected data is aggregated and anonymous.

As areas around the city begin to reopen, Tory noted that cellphone data will reveal how many people leave Toronto and “region-hop” to places with less stringent public health measures.

According to the mayor, data from the period leading up to Christmas showed “thousands upon thousands” of people leaving Toronto, which was in a lockdown at the time, and visiting shopping malls in other regions.

While Tory noted that there is no inter-provincial travel ban, people have been asked not to partake in region-hopping.

“We have to redouble our efforts for just a bit longer to show the virus and its variants who has the upper hand,” Tory said. “Please don’t get complacent.”

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