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Toronto and Ontario enforcing strict measures to halt virus spread, new rules could last 3 months

TORONTO, ON. April 1, 2020 – Today, City of Toronto health officials along with Mayor John Tory held a press conference to announce that the City will be taking strict measures to enforce physical distancing. Mayor Tory said “locking the city down as much as the municipal government possibly can” will save lives, flatten that curve down, and bring this wave of the pandemic to an end earlier than would otherwise have been the case.” 

Meanwhile Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, says the new measures will last up to 12 weeks to aggressively halt the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto. 

Just two weeks ago, on March 18, Toronto had 145 COVID-19 cases, with 10 people in hospital. Four were in intensive care, there were no outbreaks and there were no COVID-19-related deaths. But now as of March 31, Toronto has 763 cases of COVID-19, with 66 in hospital and 33 in intensive care. There are now 11 outbreaks reported and, tragically, eight deaths. 

In the last two weeks alone, the economic loss to the retail sector is estimated to be $291 million. 

New Measures taking effect immediately for up to 12 weeks include an order for all people with COVID-19 or anyone who has had close contact someone with the virus to stay home for 14 days. Anyone not ill must stay home unless they are getting healthcare, medication, groceries, walking their dogs or exercising at least two metres physically distanced.

Dr. de Villa said people over the age of 70 must stay home and the essential businesses remaining open must limit in-person access and ramp up cleaning and screening methods for employees.

The following measures that will take effect immediately for up to 12 weeks: 

  • All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 days 
  • All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home by the Medical Officer of Health for 14 days 
  • Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to STAY HOME except for the following reasons: 
  1. accessing healthcare or medication 
  2. shop for groceries once per week 
  3. walk their dogs 
  4. get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres 
  • People returning from international travel must stay home, already 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 
  • Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness 
  • Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses 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. 

The City said in an official statement that they “If we do not take these actions today, the city will see substantially increased loss of life, and may not begin to recover, economically and as a society, until the end of 2020.”

Mayor Tory strongly supports these unprecedented measures to save lives, protect health and give residents their lives back at the earliest possible date.

The Mayor urged all residents to follow the guidance of public health officials to reduce substantial loss of life in Toronto, to protect the healthcare system, and to minimize the significant social and economic disruptions that will occur if new measures are not taken, noting these new measures will require tremendous sacrifice by the people of Toronto. 

“Our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has been clear that the healthcare system depends on these actions – failure to do more will result in its inability to manage,” Tory said. That would cost lives. The sacrifices we are asking people to make now will save lives and allow for a quicker recovery. Our public health professionals believe the additional actions being announced today – locking the city down as much as the municipal government possibly can – will save lives, flatten that curve down, and bring this wave of the pandemic to an end earlier than would otherwise have been the case.” 

The City says in some cases, fines could be issued where there is non-compliance. City bylaw enforcement officers and the Toronto Police Service will work together to enforce the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the orders issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. 

Also, under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) announced Tuesday night, people must now ID themselves to police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers. Anyone who doesn’t comply can be fined $750

Other fines for violating emergency orders, which include being caught in gatherings of five people or more , price gouging, or failure to close a non-essential business could result in a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual (or imprisonment). While fines for a director of a corporation go up to $500,000 or up to $10 million for a corporation.

By following the direction of public health officials and limiting COVID-19 exposure to essential and critical workers that keep the city functioning, we can ensure that emergency services, garbage collection, water, gas, electricity, public transportation, emergency daycare, and support for our most vulnerable can continue to function. 

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice, and information about City services and social supports. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311. 

with source info from toronto.ca

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