All City of Toronto facilities and buildings will remain closed until further notice and event permits have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor John Tory announced on Tuesday.
City-led major events, festivals, conferences and cultural programs, including Pride Weekend, and permits for major events in Toronto have been cancelled through June 30.
Tory said some parts of Pride Month in June will continue, but didn’t provide specifics.
“I spoke with representatives from Pride Toronto today and I thank them for their understanding of this decision and expressed my own enthusiasm for Pride Month, which will still proceed in June, so stay tuned.”
“This is not an easy decision to make but it is necessary to protect the public and to save lives,” Tory added. “It also gives clarity to the event organizers and residents. While we treasure many of these events … protecting health and safety has to be our primary concern right now.”
With April rents looming, Tory also urged landlords to work with tenants who may have been financially affected by the pandemic.
“While the city doesn’t have the power to compel landlords to help tenants who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, I strongly urge landlords to work with their tenants to help them stay in their homes and business premises.”
Tory also addressed overcrowding on some TTC bus routes, saying buses would be diverted to busier areas to help alleviate the situation.
Enforcing social distancing
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the city is deploying 60 additional bylaw officers to help enforce social distancing at Toronto parks. He said authorities would first try to educate citizens before resorting to hefty $750 fines.
Pegg said since March 24, the city has received 597 complaints related to use of parks amenities and police have issued nine $750 tickets for non-compliance.
The city also fielded nearly 500 complaints about non-essential businesses remaining open, with bylaw officers issuing 23 notices and 10 warning letters.
Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa stressed the importance of social distancing to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“Some have asked: ‘Can my child play outside with other children in the neighbourhood?’ The answer is simply ‘no.’ For the safety of your child and for all others this kind of interaction must be avoided.”
“Others ask: ‘How often can I go out to get groceries or other essentials? ‘ Simply put, I’m asking people to minimize where possible the number of times each week that they go out to get groceries or other essentials. Ideally, once a week.”
De Villa said as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, there are 793 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto and so far, eight people have died.