Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto is enacting enhanced measures to “aggressively halt” the spread of COVID-19, and that physical distancing will continue for the next 12 weeks.
The measures are in place to reduce the number of deaths, protect the health care system, and ensure that the economy can rebound more quickly.
According to the City of Toronto, the following measures will take effect immediately for the next three months:
- All individuals with coronavirus are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 days
- All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has coronavirus are also ordered to stay home by the Medical Officer of Health for 14 days
- Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons:
- accessing healthcare or medication
- shop for groceries once per week
- walk their dogs
- get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres
- People returning from international travel must stay home, already a federal order
- Anyone over the age of 70, as the province announced this week, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible
- Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness
- Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses maximize physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices, and limit in-person access to those businesses, as much as possible
- Increased cleaning and active screening of employees at all businesses.
The City, under the guidance of the Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, will monitor cases and community transmission of coronavirus, adjusting the timing and measures as appropriate.
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“If we do not take these actions today, the city will see substantially increased loss of life, and may not begin to recover, economically and as a society, until the end of 2020,” the city said.
Tory said he strongly supports these unprecedented measures and the mayor warned, in some cases, fines could be issued where there is non-compliance.
City bylaw enforcement officers and the Toronto Police Service will work together to enforce the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the orders issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Just two weeks ago, on March 18, Toronto had 145 cases, with 10 people in hospital. Four were in intensive care, there were no outbreaks and there were no coronavirus-related deaths.
As of March 31, Toronto has a reported 763 known cases of the illness, with 66 in hospital and 33 in intensive care. There are now 11 outbreaks reported and eight deaths.
According to de Villa, this shows a 500% increase which is not a “favourable projection.”
In the last two weeks alone, the economic loss to the retail sector is estimated to be $291 million.
“We must absolutely implement stronger measures to avoid the types of results we are seeing in places like New York City,” de Villa said.
Emergency services like police services, fire services, paramedics, garbage collection, water, gas, electricity, public transportation, emergency daycare, and support for our most vulnerable can continue to function.
“This is going to be a very long battle. The numbers are heading the wrong direction in Toronto. Our doctor says it is time to act,” Tory said.
Last week, the mayor announced the closure of city-owned parks and playgrounds, which was also mandated by the province on Monday.
On March 23, Tory also declared a state of emergency for the city.
According to the City, the declaration of a municipal emergency is part of the ongoing efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus and will ensure the municipal government “can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.”