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Toronto update on COVID-19 and holiday services and programs


Toronto holiday operations will be in effect on December 25 and 26, and January 1, reservations must be made for skating

TORONTO, ON., Dec. 24, 2020 — The City released a statement yesterday about the status of COVID-19 in Toronto and all of the City’s Holiday services and programs.

In a continuing effort to reduce and eliminate the transmission of COVID-19, protect the healthcare system and save lives, Toronto Public Health strongly recommends against in-home festivities and encourages everyone to observe the prohibition against indoor gatherings by celebrating in-person only with people from the same household. Consider virtual celebrations with those from other households. Residents who live alone can consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household.

In a COVID-19 update provided yesterday by Mayor John Tory and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said there are 55,304 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 628 new cases today. There are 321 people hospitalized. In total, 47,603 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 1,827 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform. Toronto Public Health will not be posting updated COVID-19 case data December 25 to 27; the next update will be Monday, December 28.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto Medical Officer of Health

“The actions that offer the most protection this holidays season will be the hardest for all of us to take,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa Toronto Medical Officer of Health. “You can look at any number of places elsewhere in the world and see what happens if action isn’t taken. I don’t want that for us. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease and it’s so easy to catch if you’re in close contact with someone who is infected. That’s why masks and distance and keeping apart matter so much, said Dr. de Villa.

“I know that we all want to live normally and enjoy time with our friends, colleagues and loved ones, but we need to remember that COVID-19 is still very real and in the background. We must not let our guard down and give the virus the chance to spread. So please stay home as much as possible, stay safe and take care of each other this holiday season,” said Dr. de Villa.

This year, all people in Toronto need to celebrate holidays differently to keep family, friends, neighbours and the wider community safe from COVID-19.  As the City of Toronto will remain in the Grey – Lockdown category of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework throughout this holiday season, with some amendments to the Lockdown Regulation taking effect on December 26, the City is reminding everyone to protect themselves and loved ones from COVID-19.

Toronto Mayor John Tory

“To those who have not been following public health advice please think for a moment about the 1,801 Torontonians we have lost so far this year due to COVID-19. Think about their loved ones who will be without them at Christmas,” said Mayor John Tory. “Think of the 85 Torontonians who are in hospital today – 52 of them in the ICU with breathing tubes. Think about the people who will get sick just so you could attend some sort of party or gathering or go somewhere you have been asked not to go. To those who have followed the advice and the rules, I am genuinely mindful and grateful for your sacrifice. You will be rewarded with a stronger renewed and recovered city sooner than if we didn’t sacrifice now. I am hugely optimistic about the future of our city and with plenty of good reason. Let’s act over the holidays in a way that makes that hope a reality,” said Mayor Tory.

Mayor Tory and Dr. de Villa ask Torontonians to review the City’s simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for recommended and mandatory public health measures, updated to reflect the new changes effective on Boxing Day, December 26. This guide communicates what is, and what is not, permitted under the  provincial Lockdown Regulation that remains in effect to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Toronto holiday operations will be in effect on December 25 and 26, and January 1

Essential City of Toronto services and operations will be available on a regular schedule during most weekdays in late December, however holiday operations will be in effect on December 25 and 26, and January 1. Some services may cease operations earlier on December 24 and 31. Services that regularly operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week such as 311 Toronto and frontline emergency services will be available every day.

Winter in Toronto is best experienced in the City’s parks and natural spaces that become a winter wonderland for skating, hiking and snow-angel-making. Now more than ever, Torontonians will benefit from staying active this winter. Toronto has much to offer and residents should continue to take part in safe, outdoor exercise-based activities with members of the same household.

Here is a detailed rundown of what City services and programs are open and closed over the holidays

Skiing and snowboarding
As of December 26, in accordance with provincial amendments to the Lockdown Regulation, ski hills are not permitted to open for the duration of the enhanced lockdown.


Residents can lace up a pair of skates this holiday season at the City’s 54 outdoor ice rinks and skating trails in Toronto parks. The playing of organized team sports (i.e. shinny) is not permitted.

Capacity for all skating rinks is limited to 25 people per ice pad and leisure skate times run in 45-minute sessions. Online reservations are encouraged, and a small number of spots will be reserved for people who are not able to make a reservation online. Rink hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. except for December 24 to 26 and January 1 where many rinks will close earlier in the evening. Nathan Philips Square will remain open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the holidays. Check rink status and a map of locations with available reservations and make reservations at toronto.ca/skate.

In order to make a skating reservation, residents need a client and family PIN number – call 416-396-7378.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 at City outdoor ice rinks, participants must maintain a physical distance of six feet from people other than their household members at all times. Masks are mandatory while waiting in line and are strongly recommended both on and off the ice. Indoor washroom access will be available, however, change rooms are closed and skaters should come ready to skate. Customer service representatives will be onsite at City rinks to facilitate health screening, provide information and help with line management. Skating is only permitted during supervised hours.

Arenas and indoor ice pads remain closed and learn-to-skate programs remain cancelled.


This winter try tobogganing at more than 23 designated toboggan hills in neighbourhoods across Toronto. Tobogganing hill locations and safety tips are available at www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/skating-winter-sports/tobogganing/.

Snow Loops
Explore eight snow loops for walking and snowshoeing at the City’s five golf courses, with loops ranging from 1 to 2.5 km. Details available at www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/skating-winter-sports/snowshoeing-cross-country-skiing/.

Disc Golf

Try your hand at disc golf at six golf course locations, including the newest course at Scarlett Woods Golf Course. Locations and more information available at www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/golf/.

Walking Paths
The City of Toronto will be providing winter maintenance on select pathways in locations across the city. These pathways will provide residents an opportunity for longer walks during the winter months. Find a list of walking paths at www.toronto.ca/welcome-to-winter/. The City is not able to maintain all pathways in all parks during the winter due to factors including the type of surface material and whether the pathway is located in an Environmentally Sensitive Area.

City parks and green spaces
More than 1,500 parks are open to the public this winter, many of which will receive enhanced snow clearing. High Park Car Free weekends continue all winter long, creating plenty of space for people to roam. Check out the more than 800 playgrounds and 30 parks with outdoor fitness equipment or discover the City’s 68 dogs off-leash areas alongside your dog. The City also offers a variety of outdoor sport courts including 60 tennis courts with nets in place, 70 locations with outdoor table tennis and 60 with chess tables. Learn all about the City’s parks and green spaces in winter at toronto.ca/welcometowinter.

The City has also more than doubled its supply of park washrooms and opened washrooms in key locations. Details available at www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/recreation-community-facilities/winter-washrooms-in-parks/.

City attractions and recreation centres
Many of the City’s attractions including Riverdale Farm, High Park Zoo and the Allan Gardens and Centennial Gardens Conservatories remain closed while Toronto remains in the Grey – Lockdown category of the Province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework.

Additionally, all recreation programming at the City’s recreation centres remains cancelled. Select City community recreation centres remain open to provide washroom and sanitation services to the public. A list of locations is available at www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/recreation-community-facilities/winter-washrooms-in-parks/#location=&lat=&lng=.

Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo remains closed to pedestrian guests. The Zoo’s Holiday Drive-Thru will be offered until tomorrow, December 24. The Holiday Drive-Thru offers a family-friendly and COVID-safe experience to see the beauty of winter at the Zoo while driving through a special holiday route. For tickets and more information, visit the Holiday Drive-Thru webpage .

The Zoo will be closed to pedestrian and drive-thru guests in accordance with enhanced provincial Lockdown Regulations. During the closure, limited Zoo staff will still be on-site to ensure the health and welfare of the 5,000 animals. For more information, visit torontozoo.com .

Toronto History Museums

Toronto History Museums are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions however there are two online offerings for this holiday season:

NEW online Shop: Stay safe and support local this gift-giving season at Toronto History Museums new online Shop, powered by Shopify and the City of Toronto’s Digital Mainstreet program. The site features unique items inspired by the City’s artifact collection and supports local Indigenous artisans and more. Visit cityoftoronto.myshopify .

Awaken a new perspective: Experience Toronto’s many stories through the Awakenings program, a series of art projects launched by the City of Toronto. Created within Toronto History Museums by Black, Indigenous and artists of colour, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism and anti-racism, the current projects are available online to view safely from home. The series is part of the City’s efforts to address anti-Black racism and more projects will be released over the next two years. Experience Awakenings at www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/history-art-culture/museums/.

St. Lawrence Market

The St. Lawrence Market is a public food market that provides fresh and prepared foods to local residents. The St. Lawrence Market Complex has modified hours over the winter holiday season.

The South Market remains open as essential food retail under the guidance of Toronto Public Health and the Province of Ontario. All non-food businesses in the Market are closed for in-person shopping and offering curbside pick-up and delivery only. All food businesses remain open with extensive COVID-19 precautions in place.

The South (main) Market building, has extended hours and will be open for the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, December 23 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 24 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 31 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 2 from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The South Market will be closed from Friday, December 25 through Monday, December 28 and on Friday, January 1.

The Saturday Farmers Market will be closed on Saturday, December 26. The Farmers Market will operate inside the Temporary Market at 125 The Esplanade on Saturday, January 2. Indoor farmers markets are permitted under the enhanced Lockdown Regulations for vendors who primarily sell food.

More information about the St. Lawrence Market Complex holiday hours is available at stlawrencemarket.com .

Child care centres

City-operated child care centres (Toronto Early Learning & Child Care Centres) will be closed on December 25, 28 and January 1. Centres will be open regular operating hours (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) on all other days. District Offices remain closed.

Waste collection

There will be no waste collection on Friday, December 25 and Friday, January 1. Collection typically scheduled for Friday will take place on Saturday instead. All Drop-Off Depots for residential waste, Household Hazardous Waste and electronics will be closed to the public on Friday, December 25 and Friday, January 1.

The City will not book any Toxic Taxi appointments from December 24, 2020 to January 4, 2021. Regular service will resume on January 4, 2021. More information available at www.toronto.ca/services-payments/recycling-organics-garbage/holiday-impacts/.

Winter road operations

The City’s snow/ice-clearing services will continue as usual during the holidays as needed. Salt trucks will be sent out as soon as snow begins to accumulate. Road plows go to expressways, major roads and transit routes first (between 2.5 to 5 cm of accumulation) and plowing on neighbourhood roads begins when the snow stops falling and if there is at least eight centimetres of accumulation on the road.

Residents and business owners are reminded to clear the snow and ice from the sidewalk near their property, and to wait until crews have had a chance to clear the snow (up to 16 hours after the snow stops falling) before calling 311 with related questions. During a snow storm, residents can find out more about Toronto’s snow plan and can track salt trucks/plows in real time at toronto.ca/snow.

2021 New Year’s Eve celebration moves online

The City of Toronto is proud to collaborate with the CN Tower and CHUM1045 to host a New Year’s Eve countdown online, in a delightful celebration of light and sound, providing you with a safe way to celebrate with members of the same household. The livestream of the show will be available on the City’s YouTube channel  and simulcast on Jamar’s House Party live on CHUM1045 on Thursday, December 31, starting at 11:59 p.m.

Public transit

TTC service will run on a modified service schedule on several days during the holiday season, including Sunday service beginning at 8 a.m. on December 25 and holiday service beginning at 6 a.m. on December 26. Due to COVID-19, the New Year’s Eve free ride will not be taking place this year. There will not be extra late-night service on New Year’s Eve; regular weekday service will be in place. Customers are encouraged to visit www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Service_changes/Holiday_Service.jsp for more information.

GO Transit will run on regular weekday and weekend schedules throughout the holiday season except on December 25 and January 1, when Sunday schedule will be in place. In support of public health recommendations to avoid non-essential travel, GO Transit will not offer free travel for New Year’s Eve on GO Transit and UP Express. There will not be extra late-night service on New Year’s Eve; regular weekday service will be in place. Check the schedule at gotransit.com .

Masks or face coverings are mandatory on TTC, GO Transit and UP Express.

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