Toronto supports strengthened restrictions to stop COVID-19 resurgence
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor John Tory states, “Toronto is at a critical moment in our battle against COVID-19. We need everyone to take action to help stop the spread of this relentless virus. We are following public health advice to confront this resurgence. We have worked with the federal and provincial governments to secure financial support for the businesses and residents who will be impacted by these measures. And I am making sure the City government does everything we can to help. If we all do the right thing during this 28-day pause, I am confident we can avoid a larger and longer lockdown, keep our schools open, and protect vulnerable residents including those in our long-term care homes.”
The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Today, Mayor John Tory, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto and expressed support for new Province of Ontario restrictions.
“This is one of the most important days for our city in this fall’s COVID-19 resurgence, as we take action to contain and control this virus. While this is a sobering moment, with sobering numbers to reflect on over the Thanksgiving weekend, we have an opportunity to reduce and reverse the COVID-19 infection rate in Toronto. I know there are people who will feel the effects of these actions much more than others, however I will do all I can to help those most affected weather these temporary restrictions during the next few weeks. I also ask everyone to reach out and take care of each other, especially now during these difficult times we face together,” states Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto.
This afternoon, the Province announced new orders and regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The orders, which come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, October 10, set private and organized gathering limits at 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, prohibit indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, limit capacity for certain activities, and prohibit games and scrimmages for sports teams. Wedding receptions may proceed this weekend, but are suspended as of October 13. The new orders will be in place for at least 28 days.
The Province’s announcement includes the closure of:
• Indoor gyms and fitness centres
• Casinos, bingo halls, and gaming establishments
• Performing arts centres and venues
• Interactive exhibits and exhibits with a high risk of person contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.
Personal care services requiring the removal of masks or face coverings are also prohibited. The capacity for tour and guide services, real estate open houses, some in-person teaching and instruction (i.e. cooking classes), and in meeting and event spaces has been set at 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Sports teams are limited to training sessions, with no games or scrimmages allowed.
Some City services and facilities are impacted by the new provincial orders. While the City announced a number of program suspensions as of October 13, given today’s announcement by the Province, the following programs and services are now suspended as of 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, October 10:
• registered and instructional programs such as learn to skate and swim programs, dance, group fitness and wellness programs
• hockey games and scrimmages
• drop-in sports programs
• table tennis, billiards, foosball
• access to the City’s two conservatories
• indoor permits for social gatherings and sport games/group fitness
• fitness centres.
The City continues to operate a number of programs with capacity restrictions and other public health measures in place including lane swimming, after-school recreation care, December camps for children and drop-in youth programs that do not include sports. Outdoor amenities in parks and green spaces, such as sports fields, skate parks, trails, BMX parks, tennis courts, basketball courts, outdoor fitness equipment, picnic shelters and playgrounds remain open, subject to the physical distancing bylaw. Leisure swim and skate are under review. City staff are also working to adapt recreational activities to be offered outdoors where possible and to ensure that residents are aware of existing outdoor recreation opportunities in compliance with public health advice.
The City’s website will be updated with service changes throughout the day. Please check toronto.ca for program change information: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/?accordion=recreation-and-community-centres.
There are 21,919 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 350 new cases today. There are 95 people hospitalized. In total, 18,204 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,313 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform: www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/covid-19-status-of-cases-in-toronto/.
All people in Toronto should still be adopting steps for self-protection. Dr. de Villa recommends individuals only consider leaving their homes for essential activities such as work, education and fresh air and exercise. As much as possible, residents are asked to limit contact with people not in the same household, keep at least six feet apart from people not in the same household and wear a mask when outside of their homes, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult. Residents should wash hands frequently and remain at home when ill.
Toronto Public Health also encourages residents to download the COVID Alert app, which can help to notify individuals who are exposed to COVID-19 in the community: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/covid-alert.html.
Under the Province of Ontario’s Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, all private and organized gatherings in Toronto are now limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. This applies to social gatherings in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas for parties, dinners, barbecues and wedding receptions. Fines for individual organizers of events that violate gathering rules are a minimum of $10,000; fines for those attending are $750. Additionally, fines for violating provincial orders can range from a ticket of $750 up to a maximum of $100,000, including up to one year in jail, and $10,000,000 for a corporation.
The City’s COVID-19 enforcement team continues to respond to complaints and enforce provincial orders and bylaws across the city, including in bars, restaurants and parks. Yesterday, the City received 17 complaints related to parks use and physical distancing, 63 complaints related to businesses and four complaints related to gatherings on private property. Officers issued five notices to businesses, one ticket related to parks use, and three notices related to gatherings on private property.
ActiveTO road closures have been extended into October. For this long weekend, closures will be in place from Saturday, October 10 at 6 a.m. to Monday, October 12 at 11 p.m.:
• Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. As a result, the eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146) will also be closed.
• Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only) from Leslie Street to Woodbine Avenue
• Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue
Parking lots at Sunnyside Park, Budapest Park and Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, along Lake Shore Boulevard West, will be closed all weekend during ActiveTO closures. Overnight parking is not permitted in these lots and any vehicles should be moved before midnight on Friday.
“The new public health measures announced today are a critical intervention and an important step in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our city. We are asking all Torontonians, but especially workers and business owners in the entertainment and hospitality sectors, to make tremendous sacrifices. I know that none of this is easy. But it’s absolutely necessary if we want to keep schools and child care centres open, so children can learn and parents can work. It’s what we have to do to make sure our hospitals don’t become overwhelmed. And it’s what is necessary to stop transmission of this virus and help save lives,” adds Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair of Toronto Board of Health.