Toronto mayor says he supports provincial move to put city, Peel Region into lockdown Monday

·7 min read

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he fully supports Ontario Premier Doug Ford's move to put the city and Peel Region into lockdown as of Monday to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Tory said the city sent a letter to the province earlier this week asking for further restrictions. The mayor thanked the premier and his cabinet for making the announcement.

"We asked the province for further actions because the numbers continue to go in the wrong direction," Tory told reporters at a Friday news conference at city hall.

"We have to stop this virus now to save lives, protect our most vulnerable and, ultimately, to protect our economy," Tory said.

"We can't have a healthy economy and build back better if people are sick and continue to get sick in greater and greater numbers. We simply cannot have a healthy economy without healthy people."

Lockdown to be place for minimum of 28 days

At an earlier news conference on Friday, Ford said the lockdown will begin on Monday, Nov. 23 at 12:01 a.m.and will be in place for a minimum of 28 days, when the measures will be reviewed by the province.

"We have to get community spread under control," Ford said. "This virus, it spreads like wildfire. In certain parts of the province, it is spreading at an alarming rate."

Ford acknowledged that the news is difficult. "This is not where we want to be," he told reporters.

"In this darkest hour, we see what we're made of. We will endure, we will persevere, and we will get through this."

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

Tory said if the province didn't take action now, then a broader and longer period of restriction would be required later to bring numbers under control.

He said city officials will work with their provincial and federal counterparts on financial support for residents who will be hard hit.

As well, city officials are working on a "plain language guide" to explain clearly to residents what they can and cannot do under the lockdown.

Tory added that it's important for employers to ensure that people who test positive know their jobs and paycheques are protected. He acknowledged that it will cause hardship for a lot of residents.

"This is a tough time in our fight against the virus. We all need to stay home as much as possible right now and follow the rules in order to protect ourselves and each other," he said.

Tory said the best way to ensure enforcement of the measures is for people to stay home.

No winter patios, no haircuts, no pools open

In Toronto, the lockdown adds further restrictions to the ones already imposed by Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, when the city was in the red-control zone. Already closed or prohibited are Indoor dining, meeting and event spaces, casinos, bingo halls and indoor fitness classes.

Additional measures include:

  • Closing all outdoor dining and patios. Take-out, drive-thru and delivery options remain available and are strongly encouraged to support local businesses.

  • Closing malls, except for essential businesses.

  • Closing all non-essential retail, except for curbside pick up; large retailers with a grocery section can remain open at 50 per cent capacity,

  • Limiting big box stores and essential businesses to 50 per cent capacity.

  • Closing all indoor gyms and recreational programs, with some city-operated community centres open for community supports, such as food banks.

  • Closing all hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and tattoo parlours.

"Having family or friends who are not members of your household in your home for a social visit is prohibited under provincial orders. Essential support workers and emergency repair persons are exempt," the city said in a news release on Friday.

"Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people. Non-essential travel outside of one's own community is strongly discouraged."

Toronto reported 420 new cases on Friday

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, reported that Toronto has 420 new cases as of Thursday at 2 p.m. She said she also commended the province for taking what she called a "necessary" step.

The city's cumulative total, or total number of cases since the pandemic began, is now approaching 37,000 cases. From Oct. 1 to Nov. 20, there have been 16,630 cases. De Villa said that means 45 per cent of all cases in Toronto have occurred since the beginning of last month.

"We must act firmly to disrupt COVID-19 and its ability to threaten and harm us. We know we can turn these numbers around," she said.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press
Chris Young/The Canadian Press

"I don't want to see hospitals straining to care for too many people, with limited space to provide that care and limited treatments for the sick. We've already lost more than 1,500 lives to COVID-19. I don't want to see deaths in our city numbering in the higher thousands, having doubled or tripled or worse," she added.

"I don't want to see people struggling with the long haul fallout from COVID-19 — breathlessness, coughing, fatigue, forgetfulness that can linger for weeks, or for months. I don't want to see any of this for our city when there are things we can to do prevent it."

De Villa urged residents to follow the measures announced on Friday.

'Let's be disciplined about keeping apart in the next 28 days, by limiting contact with the people we don't live with," she said.

"Please choose to stay home and stay apart as much as you can. Letting our guards down has undeniably played a part in getting us to this moment."

Health officials and local politicians in Toronto and Peel have advocated and publicly supported additional, more far-reaching restrictions.

Both areas have been registering consistently high daily case counts and alarming test positivity rates. Local officials in York have instead pushed for very targeted measures.

Schools to remain open while city in lockdown

According to the provincial government, the lockdown means:

  • Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open.

  • Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade.

  • No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person.

  • Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people.

  • Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors.

  • Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions, such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

  • Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited.

  • Personal care services closed.

  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed.

  • Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.

In a news release on Friday, the provincial government said: "Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level."