Mayor John Tory said Toronto officials are “locking the city down as much as any municipal government could” while announcing measures to protect residents in a 12-week plan to fight COVID-19 issued Wednesday.
These measures may not last the full 12 weeks, Tory said at a news conference, but residents should assume they will.
“The numbers are presently heading in the wrong direction in Toronto,” Tory said.
The city says the following measures are now in place for up to 12 weeks:
- All people with COVID-19 are ordered to stay home for 14 days.
- All people who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home for 14 days.
- Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except to access healthcare or medication, shop for groceries once per week, walk their dogs, and get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres.
- People returning from international travel must stay home under 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.
- Only essential businesses are to remain open, and those businesses must 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.
There are enforcement measures that the city will be able to use in this case, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health.
“My hope is we do not have to go there,” she said.
Tory said he has drafted a bylaw to enforce social distancing limits that would apply to any city property.
“If it’s necessary for us to use it … then that will be proceeded with,” he said.
De Villa said that on March 18, there were 145 COVID-19 cases in Toronto, with 10 people in hospital, and four people in intensive care.
As of April 1, Toronto has 653 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 75 people in hospital and 35 in intensive care. The city has reported 19 deaths. There are also another 165 probable cases.
Referring to the previous day’s total of 763 cases, De Villa said that amounts to a 500 per cent increase in case counts in a two-week period.
“This is not a favourable trajectory,” de Villa said. “I am deeply concerned.”
The city says the economic loss to Toronto’s retail sector is estimated to be $291 million over the last two weeks alone.
Tory said he knows that everyone in Toronto wants to get back to the way things were.
“Getting to those better days will depend on our collective response as a city.”
Toronto isn’t the only municipality stepping up legal measures Wednesday to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The neighbouring city of Brampton has enacted a bylaw that prohibits people from being within two metres of each other on public property, other than people they live with, with penalties of up to $100,000.
Meanwhile, the province has announced that people being charged with violating state of emergency orders, such as running non-essential businesses and gathering in groups larger than five, will be required to identify themselves to police or bylaw enforcement officers.
Failure to comply will carry a fine of $750 and obstructing an officer from issuing a ticket will carry a $1,000 fine.