social distancing ontario

Toronto just recommended new stricter rules for social distancing

As cases of COVID-19 continue to see a dramatic surge in Toronto, the City is now recommending stricter social distancing measures to try and slow the spread of the virus. 

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning, Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, emphasized the importance of these new measures by putting the number of cases into perspective. 

She explained that just two weeks ago, on March 18, Toronto had 145 COVID-19 cases with 10 people in hospital. Four were in intensive care, there were no outbreaks and there were no COVID-19-related deaths.

Since then, cases have risen by more than 500 per cent.

As of March 31, Toronto had 763 cases of COVID-19, with 66 in hospital and 33 in intensive care. There are now 11 outbreaks reported and eight deaths.

"This is not a favourable trajectory," Dr. de Villa said during the press conference.

In order to slow this down and avoid a deadly situation like the one in New York City, Dr. de Villa says we need to implement stricter social distancing measures immediately. 

The City's new social distancing recommendations are as follows.

  • Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons:
    - accessing healthcare or medication
    - shop for groceries once per week
    - walk their dogs
    - get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres
  • People returning from international travel must stay home (already a federal order)
  • Anyone over the age of 70, as the province announced this week, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible
  • Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness
  • Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses maximize physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices, and limit in-person access to those businesses, as much as possible
  • Increased cleaning and active screening of employees at all businesses

Dr. de Villa also announced today that under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, all individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the medical officer of health to stay home for 14 days.

Under the same act, all individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home by the for 14 days. 

"The City, under the guidance of the Medical Officer of Health, will monitor cases and community transmission of COVID-19, adjusting the timing and measures as appropriate," reads a news release from the City. 

"If we do not take these actions today, the city will see substantially increased loss of life, and may not begin to recover, economically and as a society, until the end of 2020."

During today's press conference, Dr. de Villa and Mayor John Tory indicated that these measures will likely be in place for up to 12 weeks. 

"Our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has been clear that the healthcare system depends on these actions – failure to do more will result in its inability to manage. That would cost lives," Tory said in a statement. 

"The sacrifices we are asking people to make now will save lives and allow for a quicker recovery. Our public health professionals believe the additional actions being announced today — locking the city down as much as the municipal government possibly can — will save lives, flatten that curve down, and bring this wave of the pandemic to an end earlier than would otherwise have been the case."

As of Wednesday morning, Ontario has confirmed 426 new coronavirus cases in the province, a 21.7 per cent increase from Tuesday. This brings the provincial total to 2,392. 

Lead photo by

Boris T

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