COVID-19 Updates - May 20th
I hope you were able to spend some time enjoying the warm weather over the long weekend.
As our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has reiterated the past few days, spending time outside is important for our mental and physical health, provided we can do so safely by keeping our physical distance of two metres (six feet) from others.
Given the importance of spending time outside, the City is continuing to expand the ActiveTO program in order to increase space on our streets and sidewalks so that people can commute, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors safely. We received a lot of positive feedback on the first phase of ActiveTO from folks who spent this past weekend walking and cycling along Lake Shore Boulevard West and Bayview Avenue. With that in mind, more street closures are planned for this upcoming weekend, with all the details below.
The City has also announced the reopening of more than 850 park amenities this week, including picnic shelters, soccer and multi-use outdoor fields, baseball diamonds, and basketball courts.
While these are positive signs that we have made some progress in slowing virus transmission, it is critical that we continue to practice physical distancing in parks and public spaces at all times. Included in her update below, Dr. de Villa reiterates the importance of keeping up with physical distancing, and shares recommendations on wearing face masks in settings where you cannot maintain a safe physical distance from others.
As more businesses and services in our community start to open, we must all stay vigilant and continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 — not only to protect ourselves, but those who are most vulnerable.
In this Edition
- ActiveTO Update
- Dog Off-Leash Areas and Other Park Amenities to Open Across the City
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health - Recommendations Regarding Masks
- Environmental Study Report for Hydro One Power Downtown Toronto Project
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Community and Social Supports for Torontonians
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
- Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
ActiveTO Update: More Streets to Open for Physical Distancing this Weekend
Last week, I wrote about the City’s new ActiveTO program that is creating more space for cyclists, pedestrians, and others on our streets and public spaces. One of the elements of the ActiveTO program is to open up select streets on weekends and holidays to create space for people to walk, cycle, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors while physically distancing.
This upcoming weekend, the following roads will be closed to cars and other motor vehicles, beginning Saturday at 6 am until Sunday at 11 pm:
- Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. The eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146) will also be closed
- Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only) from Coxwell Avenue to just south of Woodbine Avenue (Kew Beach Avenue)
- Bayview Avenue from Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue.
Dog Off-Leash Areas and Other Park Amenities to Open Across the City
Yesterday, the City’s Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff began re-opening more than 70 dog off-leash areas across the city, due to an update in the Province’s emergency order. People in dog off-leash areas must continue to maintain a physical distance from others of a minimum of 2 metres (or the length of three large, happy dogs). Those who fail to do so may be subject to a $1,000 fine. Owners and dog walkers must continue to leash dogs in all other areas of parks.
The City also announced that staff are opening a number of additional park amenities for Torontonians to enjoy. By this weekend,staff intend to open picnic shelters, more than 300 soccer fields and baseball diamonds, and 150 basketball courts. Staff are also working hard to re-open 600 tennis courts this week, along with skateboard and BMX parks. Parking lots at parks will also re-open at many locations.
Park amenities that will remain closed include playgrounds, exercise equipment, swimming pools and splash pads.
While I know this is welcome news for many of us who want to be outdoors and enjoy the weather, we must continue to practice physical distancing of 2 metres (6 ft) while in parks and public areas. Team sports are not permitted — residents are welcome to use the open sports fields and courts, but only with members of their own household. Groups of more than five people who are not part of the same household continue to be restricted under the provincial order.
You can access more information about plans for parks and other city services here: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/?accordion=parks
Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health - Recommendations Regarding Masks
Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and other City division leaders have been providing daily updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the daily press conferences live at 3:45pm, and access past updates here.
Update from Dr. Eileen de Villa
Today in her update, Dr. de Villa shared recommendations regarding the use of face masks. She reminded us that COVID-19 continues to spread in our city, which is why we need to keep six feet (or two metres) away from others when outside of our homes, avoid touching our faces, and wash our hands often. These are the best ways to protect ourselves and others from this virus.
Dr. de Villa also noted that while the available scientific evidence on this subject is limited, there appears to be some benefit to wearing a face mask, in that it can protect others from your germs to some degree. This is why at this time, she is echoing the recommendations shared earlier today by provincial and federal health officials, and strongly recommending that people wear a mask in settings where they cannot maintain a safe physical distance from others.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has confirmed that wearing a face mask does not protect the person wearing it from the germs of others, and is not a substitute for physical distancing.
As Dr. de Villa has shared many times, COVID-19 is a new virus — one that we are still learning about. We have learned that COVID-19 can spread before someone has symptoms, or is even aware that they have the infection. This is why recommendations have been updated to strongly encourage the use of face masks to protect others when we are in settings where we cannot maintain physical distancing. This will help to reduce virus spread in our community.
To read more about recommendations regarding the use of masks, click here.
Read Dr. de Villa’s past updates here.
Environmental Study Report for Hydro One Power Downtown Toronto Project
Hydro One has completed the draft Environmental Study Report (ESR) for the proposed Power Downtown Toronto project. This project will involve replacing critical underground transmission cables serving Toronto’s downtown core that were originally installed in the 1950s and are approaching their end of life.
The recommended option was presented at a public open house in February and has now been submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Environment. A new cable line between The Esplanade and Terauley (Bay Street) Transfer stations will be constructed through underground tunneling. An access shaft at each Transfer Station site will be excavated for use during construction.
As the project schedule is finalized, there will be more information on construction planning, including the formation of community construction liaison groups.
How can you provide your input?
The draft ESR will be available for a review and comment period until May 29, 2020. In light of recent public health developments the draft ESR can be viewed electronically on Hydro One’s website at www.HydroOne.com/PowerDowntownToronto. Please call 416-345-6799 if you have any barriers to online access.
To submit comments or for more information please contact Hydro One Community Relations at Community.Relations@HydroOne.com or 416-345-6799.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
The City of Toronto has created a COVID-19 Essential Service Mapping Tool.
This tool has up-to-date service listings across Toronto, including food banks, meal delivery programs, community health services and more. Additional layers and details are being updated daily by 211 Toronto.
Advice from Toronto Public Health – Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
We’ve all had to endure a great deal of change over these last couple of weeks – from practicing physical distancing, to working from home, to caring for children home from school, to keeping a distance from our elderly family members and friends – it’s an adjustment, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to not feel okay. But through all of this, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.
It’s also important for all of us to remember to care for our own mental health during this time. In previous updates I shared tips and resources from Toronto Public Health on staying emotionally healthy and resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to view and share.
Community and Social Supports for Torontonians
Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to physical distancing measures, there are still social services supports available for residents in need. Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports to name a few. Call 211, text 21166, or live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.
A City-Community Response Table meets daily and includes representatives from more than 30 agencies across Toronto and 11 City divisions. This group is working together to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues.
Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services, should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services.
211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.
Supporting Local Businesses
Our small and independent businesses are vital to the fabric of our city, and it’s critical that we support them as much as possible during these difficult and uncertain times. Here are some ways we can all do our part:
- Shop local: although businesses have had to close their doors to the public to allow for physical distancing, many are still offering takeout and delivery options. Many local fitness studios and gyms are offering online classes. Some businesses that provide in-person services are offering pre-booking and gift cards for future use. Contact your favourite local business to see how you can support them during this challenging time.
- Donate through distantly.ca: the City of Toronto is highlighting the launch of an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform allows customers to continue to support local main street businesses impacted by non-essential closures, such as coffee shops, restaurants and hair salons. Visit distantly.ca to learn more and donate.
- Participate in #TakeOutDay: a Canada-wide campaign, #TakeOutDay is now every Wednesday as a show of support for our favourite local restaurants. Restaurants are doing their part by staying open for takeout. Now it's your turn to take an active part in support of an industry that employs millions of people across our country. Let's make Wednesdays #TakeoutDay. Learn more at canadatakeout.com
Advice from Toronto Public Health on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
Now that the warmer weather is arriving, many people are spending time outdoors for physical and mental health.
When spending time outdoors, refer to this information from Toronto Public Health;
- COVID-19 spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking
- Droplets can spread up to 6 feet (2 metres) so close, prolonged contact poses the highest risk
- When cycling, running, or walking, step aside or pass others quickly and courteously
- The risk for catching COVID-19 while passing someone is low
If sick, you must stay home and self-isolate
- People are most contagious when they are sick, or 48 hours before they show symptoms
- Limit contact with other household members
- Refer to fact sheets on how to self-isolate
Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
The rapidly-evolving COVID-19 response requires all levels of government to work closely together.
I am in regular contact with my Provincial and Federal counterparts regarding the evolving COVID-19 response and how to best support Spadina-Fort York residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations.
Please visit their websites for more information on the Provincial and Federal responses:
COVID-19 Information and Resources
Now is not the time for panic or misinformation. Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.
Please visit the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for the up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Government COVID-19 websites
Call if you develop symptoms.
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.