Staying Informed About COVID-19 - March 17th Updates
I know that the past few days have been a whirlwind for all of us.
The closure of schools, international border restrictions, and new social distancing measures for bars, restaurants, nightclubs and movie theatres have understandably created challenges and uncertainty. However, these are necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. And, they are only the beginning. Together, we all have a role to play in confronting this global pandemic.
Our city’s COVID-19 response has three pillars: A strong public health response to keep Torontonians safe; the continued delivery of core city services that residents rely on; and the implementation of economic recovery and resilience measures to support individuals, families, organizations, and local businesses.
I want to assure residents, we will not let you down.
Under the leadership of Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa; Toronto’s Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management, Matthew Pegg; and Mayor John Tory, our city is ready, and we are in good hands.
Please continue reading below for the most recent updates, and do not hesitate to be in touch should you have any questions.
The City’s website will continue to be updated regularly as new information becomes available, and residents are encouraged to check back often for the latest information on programs and services: https://www.toronto.ca/covid19
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Province of Ontario Enacts Declaration of Emergency to Prevent Spread of COVID-19
Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it has made an order declaring an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:
- All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
- All public libraries;
- All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
- All licensed child care centres;
- All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
- All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
- Concert venues.
Further, all organized public events of over fifty people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.
For more on this provincial announcement, click here.
Impacts on City of Toronto Services and Facilities
Today, the City of Toronto announced changes to City services and facilities, which will be implemented on the advice of the Medical Officer of Health.
The health and safety of our employees is of paramount importance to the City and we will continue following the advice of the City's Medical Officer of Health to increase social distancing. Beginning today, the City will scale back and/or modify delivery of all non-essential services until April 5, 2020. Essential and/or critical services will remain operational.
Examples of these essential services include emergency services, shelters, and Toronto Water.
Preparations and planning for these types of service changes have been underway since lessons learned during SARS. As a city we will continue to base our actions on the best experts and evidence, and will continue working closely with all levels of government to keep our community safe and healthy.
Updates on impacted City services can be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/affected-city-services/
Update on City’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for Shelters and Those Experiencing Homelessness
As we prepare for further transmission of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is stepping up to support all Torontonians. Nobody will be left behind. No resource will be spared in our effort to protect the most vulnerable.
Today, details were shared of the City of Toronto's plan to ensure the health and safety of our neighbours experiencing homelessness and accessing shelter services. We are taking steps that are the first of their kind in Canada.
The City's plan is a 3-tiered response that is already rolling out. It will continue to evolve and scale up in response to the changing needs of the most vulnerable.
1 – We have opened a new site, with four more to follow tomorrow, to create space for social distancing within the existing shelter system. We are also working with Toronto Community Housing to identify vacancies for rapid housing.
2 – We have implemented screening processes for COVID-19 using Toronto Public Health guidelines for those seeking shelter. People who should be assessed will be referred to a provincial assessment centre.
People who are being tested for COVID-19 and need shelter will be referred to a special medically-supported isolation service while they await test results, in partnership with Inner City Health Associates. It is the first service of its kind in Canada.
3 – At this time, nobody accessing shelter services has tested positive for COVID-19. But the City of Toronto is working very hard with our provincial partners to ensure appropriate shelter, with medical support, is available for anyone who might test positive.
The City of Toronto has also provided financial resources to service providers to help cover the costs of additional cleaning and personal protective gear for staff working in shelters. There will be more details shared soon, and we are ready to scale up the response as needed.
Toronto will rise to the test of this critical moment, together. And that means always taking care of the most vulnerable members of our community, and ensuring every single Torontonian remains safe, healthy, and has a place to sleep each night. Nobody will be left behind.
What is Social Distancing?
Every Torontonian can do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Staying informed, being rigorous about strong individual hygiene practices, and enacting social distancing are measures we must all take. But what is social distancing?
Social distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Social distancing includes, but is not limited to:
- talking to your supervisor, manager, or employer about the possibility of working from home where possible
- avoiding visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing, hospices and other congregate care settings unless the visit is absolutely essential
- avoiding non-essential trips in the community
- keeping the windows down if you have to go into the community for an essential trip via taxi or rideshare
- limiting or cancelling group gatherings
- holding virtual meetings
- spending time outside and in settings where people can maintain a 6 feet distance from each other
Please note: that these guidelines are not meant to say “you must stay in your home!”
You can still go outside to take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store. We simply recommend that while outside you make sure to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 6 feet from those around you.
Remember: While you may not feel sick, and while we know these measures are an inconvenience, please be mindful of the members of our community who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. We are all in this together.
What is Self-Isolation?
Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.
Even if you do not have symptoms, it is recommended to self-isolate for 14 days if:
- You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America).
- You live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has:
- Tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travel outside of Canada.
Toronto Public Health - COVID-19 Website for Information and Updates
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 follow the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19