Toronto’s top doctor Eileen de Villa feels that the province made the correct decision in announcing stricter COVID-19 health measures on Friday.
De Villa says in order to prevent a major crisis Toronto needs the strictest measures possible, citing the widespread outbreaks in certain hotspots in the United States and Europe.
The Doug Ford government announced it’s moving Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown and under the ‘Grey Zone‘ in relation to the province’s COVID-19 colour-coded framework.
This means several new restrictions will come into effect on Monday, including the closure of all retail establishments, except for essential services such as grocery stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores.
The government said that non-essential retail stores will be limited to curbside pickup only.
The city’s chief medical officer says she knows the lockdown will have a severe impact on business owners and workers alike. She is calling on senior government officials to do what they can to support people through the lockdown that will be in place for at least 28 days.
In addition to the new restrictions, de Villa is urging Torontonians to continue regular pandemic health practices when staying home isn’t possible. This includes physical distancing, wearing masks and regular hand washing
“Everyone has different needs and requirements but going forward for those of use who can choose, please choose wisely.”
Mayor John Tory took time to thank Ford for listening to health officials and medical officers and implementing stricter measures for the city of Toronto. The mayor said the new guidelines are necessary.
“The numbers continue to go in the wrong direction despite the city of Toronto having the strictest existing restrictions in the province.”
He said that the time for action is now and modelling from the federal government show that without further intervention the virus would continue to surge across all regions of the country.
The mayor said he believes the alternative to the lockdown would be a lengthier period of restriction that would do even more damage to the economy and result in a larger health crisis.
“We have to stop this virus now to save lives, protect our most vulnerable, and ultimately protect our economy. We simply cannot have a health economy without healthy people.”
Tory said he understands the new measures will be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons. He specifically mentioned residents who regularly attend places of worship. He encouraged those residents to continue to use drive-through services if possible.
The city is working on ways to improve COVID-19 response in vulnerable areas of the city where cases are higher. Tory cited the northwest and northeast parts of the city as particular problem spots that require more attention.
The city continues to work with the province to get more available testing to the most vulnerable neighbourhoods.
Health officials continue the message of urging residents to only leave home for work, school, exercise or essential items.
“Please say home as much as possible. There are fewer places to go now, but please stay home,” says Tory.
Toronto is approaching 37,000 cases since the start of the pandemic. From the beginning of October alone the city has reported 16,600 cases which accounts for 45 per cent of the total.