GTA

Toronto cancels all city events and permits until June 30 citing COVID-19 outbreak

Toronto Mayor John Tory says all major city events and event permits are cancelled until June 30 as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

Pride Weekend is among the events to be cancelled.

The city now has 793 cases of the virus. Of those, 65 people are in hospital, with 33 in intensive care beds. The city has registered eight deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Tory said the city has to take these steps to ensure the health of its citizens, including essential workers and vulnerable people.

The events include festivals, conferences and cultural programs, Tory added. Included are all city permits for major events organized by external groups at civic centres, parks and public spaces, and city-operated museums and cultural centres.

“This is not an easy decision to make, but it is necessary to protect the public and to save lives,” Tory said.

As for Pride Month, Tory said it will proceed, but Pride Toronto said it will no longer host Festival Weekend on June 26 to 28.

“Our team is working hard to deliver Pride celebrations in new, creative, and unique ways that ensure safety and physical distancing,” Pride Toronto said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It is critically important that all organizations and people take every action possible to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision by public health authorities to cancel permits through the month of June is a necessary one,” the statement continues.

“Any future programming will be in alignment with the recommendations of the public health authorities and the communities we serve. At this time, we must all do our part to ensure the health and safety of our community.”

Pride Toronto thanked the city for making the health of its community a priority.

At a news conference at city hall, Tory told reporters that all city facilities, including non-emergency city child-care facilties in schools, will be closed until further notice. City-operated programs will also continue to be cancelled.

The mayor added that the TTC is adding buses on routes that it has identified as being overcrowded.

“We know this pandemic is changing how we go about our daily lives in our city. And that will also mean many of the events we treasure in our city every year will not be able to go ahead as scheduled this year,” he said.

“While we treasure many of these events and the important contribution they make in our life, protecting the health and safety of Toronto residents is our primary concern right now.”

Tory said many of the major events involve hundreds and thousands of people and he doubts the environment in the city will have changed to the point where they could continue.

“Festivals and events are treasured moments in neighbourhoods across the city. But the sooner we heed the advice of our medical experts … the sooner we get back to the things we enjoy and love,” he added.

CBC

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