City of Toronto leases downtown Novotel hotel as homeless shelter during COVID-19 pandemic

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The City of Toronto is leasing the downtown Novotel Toronto Centre hotel as a temporary homeless shelter to allow for more physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hotel, located on 45 The Esplanade, will open as a shelter in late February and has been leased until December, according to a statement from the city. It will be operated by the Homes First Society, a housing agency.

Toronto reported 10 COVID-19 outbreaks at homeless shelters last week that left 66 unhoused people infected with the novel coronavirus.

At the new shelter, at least 12 staff will be available on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week as well as supervisors on each shift, and all meals will be provided at the shelter.

The city will also provide support, such as a clinic with physical and psychiatric support and access to case management workers to develop a permanent housing plan. There will be sanitation protocols in place in dining areas and in elevators to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the city.

There will also be a security team of four to six- guards assigned to the shelter and two community safety teams patrolling the area around the hotel from Yonge to Parliament streets and from Lakeshore Boulevard. East to Richmond Street.

The city has opened more than 40 additional shelter sites across Toronto as part of its COVID-19 response.