Timeline: A year of pandemic life in Toronto

By Michael Ranger

It has been exactly one year since the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Later that same day the NBA was forced stop all of their games when they discovered a player had tested positive right before tipoff, the sports world came to a screeching halt.

Schools in Ontario were closed the next day and people were told not to go to work. The Canadian parliament shut down a day after that and a state of emergency was declared for Ontario a few days later.

Two pandemic waves and over 7,000 Ontario deaths later, hope is on the horizon with a growing arsenal of vaccines that could potentially bring an end to the new normal.

Here is a look back at how COVID-19 has shaped the past 12 months of life in Toronto, the province and the country.

RELATED: Canada to mark national day of observance to commemorate those who died of COVID-19


March 11, 2020

  • The federal government unveils a $1 billion response package to help mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian health-care system, the economy, and workers.
  • The NBA announces it is suspending its season “until further notice” after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tests positive for COVID-19.


March 12, 2020


March 13, 2020


March 14, 2020

  • Ontario surpasses 100 COVID-19 cases.


March 15, 2020

  • All non-essential care and elective surgeries are put on hold at Ontario hospitals.


March 16, 2020


March 17, 2020

  • Doug Ford declares a state of emergency for Ontario – the province has orders the closure of all facilities providing indoor recreation programs, all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed childcare centres, all theatres, cinemas and concert venues, and all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery.


March 18, 2020


March 20, 2020

  • Canada surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 cases


March 23, 2020


March 24, 2020


March 25, 2020


March 27, 2020


March 30, 2020


March 31, 2020

  • All major Toronto events, festivals, conferences and cultural programs, including Pride Weekend, are cancelled through June 30.



April 2, 2020

  • Toronto implements new bylaw ordering people to remain two metres apart when they are in public parks and squares or face up to $5,000 in fines.


April 7, 2020


April 9, 2020

  • Statistics Canada reports the economy lost 1,011,000 jobs in March — the worst recorded single-month change — lifting the unemployment rate to 7.8 per cent.


April 16, 2020

April 18, 2020

  • Ontario surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 cases and 500 deaths.


April 19, 2020

  • Ontario Correctional Institute (OCI) in Brampton is forced to shut down to a COVID-19 outbreak.


April 23, 2020


April 27, 2020



May 4, 2020

  • Ontario starts its first gradual reopening allowing some seasonal businesses to reopen, including garden centres with curbside pickups, lawn care and landscaping companies, and automatic car washes.


May 7, 2020


May 8, 2020


May 11, 2020


May 12, 2020


May 16, 2020


May 19, 2020


May 23, 2020


May 24, 2020

  • Toronto surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 cases


May 26, 2020

  • A military report on five long-term care homes in Ontario detailed disturbing allegations such as rooming COVID-19 positive patients with uninfected ones, insect infestations and aggressive resident feeding that led to choking.



June 5, 2020


June 12, 2020


June 17, 2020


June 19, 2020


June 24, 2020

  • Toronto and Peel join the rest of the province and move into the second stage of the Ontario’s reopening plan, allowing bar and restaurant patios, beauty salons, splash pads, mini golf and museums to resume operations.
  • Several players and staff members on the Toronto Blue Jays test positive for COVID-19.



July 2, 2020


July 6, 2020


July 13, 2020


July 17, 2020


July 24, 2020


July 28, 2020


July 30, 2020


July 31, 2020

  • Nearly all businesses and public spaces reopen in Toronto and Peel, with health measures in place, as the regions enter stage 3 of reopening.



August 1, 2020


August 5, 2020

  • Canada is signs deals with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and U.S.-based biotech firm Moderna to procure millions of doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccines.


August 17, 2020


August 20, 2020

  • CERB is extended another four weeks, and a new benefit that pays $400 a week for up to 26 weeks will replace it for Canadians ineligible for employment insurance.


August 25, 2020

  • The federal government is giving $2 billion more to provinces and territories to bolster the safe reopening of schools in the fall.



September 8, 2020


September 9, 2020

  • The Toronto District School Board postpones the back-to-school start date for most high school students to later in September.


September 17, 2020

  • The Ford government announces that social gathering limits will be reduced to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, the restrictions were expanded to the rest of the province days later.


September 25, 2020


September 30, 2020



October 2, 2020


October 4, 2020


October 9, 2020

  • Ontario announces modified stage 2 restrictions for Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, closing indoor dining, gyms and theatres.


October 16, 2020


October 31, 2020

  • Canada experiences an unconventional pandemic Halloween as leaders and health officials urge no trick-or-treating in COVID hot spots.



November 9, 2020


November 10, 2020

  • Toronto’s top doctor Eileen de Villa implements added COVID-19 safety restrictions, prohibits indoor dining in the city once again.


November 16, 2020

  • The Ford government lowers the COVID-19 framework threshold in Ontario, York Region, Halton and Hamilton all move to the ‘Red Zone.’
  • U.S. biotech company Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective.


November 18, 2020


November 23, 2020

  • Ontario moves Toronto and Peel Region back into lockdown as the province falls into the second wave of the pandemic.


November 24, 2020



December 7, 2020

  • Prime Minister Trudeau announces Canada will receive COVID-19 vaccine doses early with 250,000 doses of the Pfizer shot arriving before the end of 2020.


December 9, 2020


December 13, 2020


December 14, 2020

  • Ontario administers the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to front-line workers in Toronto.


December 23, 2020


December 25, 2020


December 26, 2020


December 31, 2020



January 4, 2021


January 11, 2021

  • Ontario surpasses 5,000 COVID-19 deaths


January 12, 2021

  • Canada secures an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.


January 14, 2021

  • A stay-at-home order goes into effect for all of Ontario.
  • Toronto releases its 2021 budget, projecting revenue losses of $1.6 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


January 17, 2021

  • Almost two dozen warnings and tickets are issued after the first day of a big box store blitz in the GTHA.


January 22, 2021


January 23, 2021



February 1, 2021

  • Ontario confirms the first case of the COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa (B.1351) in Peel Region.


February 8, 2021


February 11, 2021


February 16, 2021

  • The stay-at-home order is lifted for Ontario regions outside of Toronto, Peel and York, regions return to colour-coded framework as part of the provinces gradual reopening plan.
  • Ontario students in Toronto, Peel and York Region return to in-person learning.


February 22, 2021

  • Stay-at-home order is extended for Toronto and Peel as York Region moves back into the ‘Red Zone’
  • Mandatory quarantine for international travellers at both air and land borders goes into effect, travellers must quarantine at their own expense.


February 26. 2021


February 28, 2021



March 1, 2021

  • Some Ontario regions begin booking vaccinations appointments for any adult over the age of 80.


March 2, 2021

  • Statistics Canada says the Canadian economy posts it worst showing ever in 2020, the GDP shrinks 5.4 per cent.


March 5, 2021


March 8, 2021


March 10, 2021

  • Ontario reveals a list of pharmacies where residents aged 60 to 64 can begin booking appointments for the AstraZeneca shot.


March 11, 2021

  • Canada marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, declaring a national day of observance to commemorate those who have died. The government has asked Canadians to think about those whose lives were claimed by the novel coronavirus, as well as the health-care and other essential workers who have been on the front lines.


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