Mayor John Tory is calling on the return of a full lockdown, saying the move needs to be made to prevent the health-care system from being overwhelmed amid surging COVID-19 numbers across the province.
The Toronto mayor said on Monday he would like to see lockdown measures return to what they looked like in the spring noting there are things open today that were shut down during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the entire province of Ontario is currently under a lockdown that began on Boxing Day, the restrictions are not as strict as the ones imposed at the beginning of the pandemic.
“There are things that were closed in the spring when we had much more encouraging results,” he said.
Tory said he would like to see more businesses closed, including big-box stores, so that people have fewer reasons to leave their homes. He would also like to cut down the hours of when essential businesses are open.
The mayor made reference to mobility data that suggests residents are leaving their homes and travelling around at a much higher rate than in the first lockdown in the spring.
Ontario is set to release new COVID-19 modelling projections on Tuesday morning, with the release of the new data expected to be followed by additional provincial restrictions.
On Friday, Premier Doug Ford offered an ominous clue about what Ontarians can expect, saying “you will fall off your chair” when the new data is released and warned of “turbulent waters” over the next several months.
While a recent public opinion poll found a majority of Ontarians support continuing and even enhancing current lockdown measures, it was also clear that many draw the line on restrictions that would limit their movement outside of their homes, such as a curfew.
Neither the mayor nor Toronto’s top public health doctor expressed support for a curfew, as has been implemented in Quebec.
Dr. Eileen de Villa said there isn’t much evidence at this time to suggest curfews are effective against the spread of COVID-19 but said wage supports for workers who need to get tested or isolate after a positive result would enable people to make the right choices.
The province has confirmed that, while new restrictions are on the way, a province-wide curfew will not be happening.
“No matter what the province ultimately implements it is important for all of us right now to exercise our own personal responsibility and stay home as much as possible,” said Tory.
The mayor said he would like to see more rule-breakers face fines but he noted there aren’t enough resources for that level of enforcement, adding people must go back to following the guidelines like they did last spring.
As of now, the current provincewide lockdown is set to last until Jan. 23.
Toronto city officials recently announced the opening of a “proof-of-concept”, COVID-19 immunization clinic that will run out of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The City’s top doctor, Eileen de Villa, confirmed it will begin operations on Jan. 18.
Ontario reported 3,338 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 new deaths on Monday. There were 931 new cases from Toronto.
The 29 deaths bring the provincial death toll since the start of the pandemic past the 5,000 mark. The province also hit a record high of hospitalizations on Monday.
With files from the Canadian Press.