Non-essential businesses in Toronto could be fined for violating shutdown

Mar 24 2020, 1:40 pm

The City of Toronto is beginning to use enforcement against non-essential businesses that aren’t complying with Ontario’s new measures, as health officials confirm an increase of COVID-19 cases to 280 residents.

On Tuesday, Chief Matthew Pegg said that under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act the city can enforce that businesses follow new closure protocols — all non-essential businesses must close at midnight across the province.

Pegg said since Tuesday morning, compliance audits have been given across the city, and will continue to do so, seven days a week during the days and evenings.

Enforcement action from Toronto Police and Toronto Public Health will also be used against any non-essential business that remain open.

According to Pegg, if a non-essential business is not complying with the order, there is a number of set fines or tickets that can be issued. He said the range can be from $750 and $1,000, all the way up to “thousands of dollars” depending on the offence.

As the city’s response to the pandemic ramps up, the number of confirmed cases in the city also increases. Since Monday, 41 new cases has been confirmed by Toronto Public Health.

Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eileen de Villa said that 10% of the 280 cases have been contracted through community spread and 18 patients are currently hospitalized.

De Villa strongly urged those who are not practicing social distancing or keeping six feet apart from others are putting essential workers and the most vulnerable at risk.

“We are at a pivotal moment right here, right now,” she said.

“Every single person plays a crucial role in preventing virus spread. Where we go from here, what happens net, depends on you.”

De Villa noted those individuals who choose to ignore public health recommendations and advice are not “accurate and not acceptable,” but “simply irresponsible.”

As the cases continue to rise, Pegg noted that the Emergency Operating Centre has been working proactively to ensure that the personal supply of equipment can be given to frontline workers efficiently.

The personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory, procurement, and consumption tracking is now being centrally managed at the EOC.

On Monday, Mayor John Tory announced a state of emergency for the city — the first time such a measure has been used for Toronto.

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.”

Tory said the next few days are absolutely crucial for residents and this declaration is a way to “strongly” tell residents to take every precaution necessary.