Toronto can't ease distancing measures without "steady decrease" in coronavirus cases

May 4 2020, 1:34 pm

The City of Toronto is not in a “place to ease measures yet,” as the city continues to experience the spread of COVID-19.

On Monday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said there are 6,278 total cases and 449 reported deaths.

De Villa said that the most important data comes from the patterns and trends that are emerging, and while Toronto is seeing “positive progress,” there are still new cases of coronavirus on a daily basis.

“This means, we are unfortunately not in a place to ease public health measures yet,” de Villa said.

At the start of the pandemic in Toronto, each individual that had coronavirus would infect three and a half people on average, with the rate of infection doubling every four days.

Currently, someone with coronavirus now infects one person and the rate of infection is doubling every seven days.

“The rate of infection is slowing and while the local curve is flattening, we are not yet seeing a steady decrease in cases,” she said.

De Villa emphasized that Toronto has not passed the infection peak yet, saying that the city will only know when the peak has been reached after it has occurred.

“This is frustrating because you have been practicing physical distancing for two months now and it’s hard when other cities relax their restrictions.”

But for now, until there is a consistent decline of cases, physical distancing measures must remain in place.

However, while physical distancing measures can’t be lifted, select seasonal businesses opened in Ontario on Monday, affecting some businesses in the city with allotment and community gardens opening later opening soon.

Mayor John Tory said that the city will follow a phased approach in opening its 81 community gardens and 12 allotment gardens to ensure public safety while providing access to an essential source of fresh food.

To date, 1,357 permits have been issued for the 2020 season.

Community gardens will begin to open this week on a location-by-location basis and allotment gardens will begin to open during the week of May 11.

“Toronto Public Health and Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff are working diligently to open the City’s community and allotment gardens under the expert advice of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa,” Tory said.

“I am pleased we will be able to open these amenities for the 2020 season to provide Torontonians with an essential source of fresh food while ensuring the safety of our residents and our staff.”

According to the city, each year, the city’s community gardens and their volunteers support more than 25 community agencies and provide them with 1,133 to 2,267 kilograms (2,000 to 5,000 pounds) of fresh, Toronto-grown produce.

Annually, more than 1,300 people use the City’s allotment gardens to grow their own food and plants. The gardens typically open in early May for planting activities but were previously included in the Province’s ordered closure of all recreation amenities in Ontario.

Tory urged residents to do the “right and responsible thing” in these gardens as the province and city take further steps to reopen certain businesses and community spaces.

The mayor also thanked Toronto residents who were out over the weekend to enjoy the warm weather but followed physical distancing measures.

“People are getting it and it helping us stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Tory said that only four tickets were issued across the city for individuals not following the physical distancing orders.