ttc coronavirus

Toronto is starting to feel like a ghost town as COVID-19 cases rise

Toronto's public transit system may still be up and running despite stern calls for "social distancing" from public health officials, but with concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak prompting a literal state of emergency in Ontario it doesn't seem to matter much.

Very few people are commuting right now as office buildings, bars, restaurants, retailers, attractions and public facilities close down amidst the global pandemic.

Governments are urging anyone with even mild symptoms (or, in the case of Torontonians, no symptoms) to stay home if they can as cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus rise, making major cities that are usually bustling feel like relative ghost towns.

Few things illustrate this phenomenon better than photos taken in downtown Toronto during rush hour this week.

What's usually a hectic display of people cramming themselves into streetcars, cringing as they jostle for precious handrail space or scowling on subway platforms was like something out of a post-apocalyptic zombie movie... minus the zombies.

It's a scene unfamiliar to many in the city — and it's making some people nervous.

Others are loving the rare opportunity for a private TTC ride.

Not to mention the speedier commute.

From the Financial District and U of T to Pearson International Airport, the lack of humans is a bit eerie — though necessary, say public health officials, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Toronto out here lookin' like Silent Hill right now with the snow falling and no one on the streets," wrote one resident on Twitter Monday night.

"At Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, there's nobody here. I've never seen this airport so dead before," wrote another on Tuesday afternoon. "There was about 11 people in the plane, including me. It’s giving me spooky vibes."

Strange as it may be to see downtown Toronto so empty, many online are praising their fellow citizens for staying indoors, as recommended by Toronto's Medical Officer of Health.

"If you can stay home, do," said Dr. Eileen de Villa on Monday evening. "If you are a business or an employee, help your staff to stay home. Limit group gatherings. if you need to seek medical attention call ahead.

"I cannot overemphasize how important this is, particularly at this critical time."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Toronto Public Library loans 3D printers to hospital to make face shields for healthcare workers

This is why Toronto doesn't have any drive-thru testing for COVID-19

Donation bins in Toronto are no longer accepting clothes due to COVID-19

Toronto man forced to move his family amid COVID-19 pandemic and he's scared

This is what it's like being an Uber driver in Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic

Toronto might close part of Yonge Street to cars to allow pedestrians to social distance

Signs on the Danforth show just how much life has changed in Toronto's Greektown

Toronto confirms 118 new cases of COVID-19 in the city