Toronto mayor says he'd fine and charge everyone breaking lockdown rules if he could
The mayor of Toronto isn't in charge of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions or holding people who break the rules accountable, but if he was, he said he'd fine and charge every single individual caught flouting the law.
Speaking to reporters during the city's press briefing Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said he doesn't direct what law enforcement or the courts do and is simply expressing his opinion when he says anyone caught breaking lockdown rules should face consequences.
"I would charge everybody involved at this stage, when we've been at this for months, and telling people that these gatherings are contrary to the guidance or to the law or both," he said.
"I would fine everybody, or at least give them a summons and have them in court. And if I was the judge, I would give them a substantial fine for doing something that puts so many people at risk, including themselves but many other people as well, and that represents such a deliberate thumbing of nose at the law, which I take very seriously."
But Tory went on to say that even if that was the policy, the city doesn't actually have enough officers to be going around knocking on doors and ensuring every single person isn't holding large gatherings.
Instead, he said people need to take some personal responsibility.
No matter what governments do, our success in fighting the spread of COVID-19 relies on how each and every one of us chooses to spend their holidays.— John Tory (@JohnTory) December 16, 2020
Please, rethink your Christmas plans.
Stick to your household. pic.twitter.com/0ykoH9fzR4
"Surely we haven't arrived at a point in 2020 where there's nobody left with any personal responsibility for this and everybody relies on bylaw officers and police officers and neighbours across the street," he said.
"I mean surely we're not there. Surely people can decide to change their plans such that they just have dinner with the people that they live with."
During the press conference, the city clarified that the enforcement strategy will in fact remain the same throughout the holidays, and officers will continue to respond to large gatherings when complaints are made.
Tory's comments come as Toronto again reported a record-high daily COVID-19 case increase Wednesday, and public officials have long been pleading with residents to avoid gathering with anyone outside their household for the holidays.
We've reached grim milestone - surpassing 50,000 cases of COVID-19 in our city.— John Tory (@JohnTory) December 16, 2020
Today, the city reported 850 cases, and tragically, 19 deaths.
These are real people with loved ones who are grieving.
Take public health guidelines seriously. When we follow them, we save lives. pic.twitter.com/gwP8S3fi7t
But modelling released by the province last week revealed that people in the city are staying home far less than they did during the lockdown in the spring, and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa today urged residents to speak up and encourage family and friends to commit to staying apart this holiday season.
"Today we know people aren't staying at home as much as they did back in the spring, thus creating more opportunities for virus spread," said Dr. de villa Wednesday. "Our call to action has never been clearer. I cannot urge you strongly enough to keep apart during the holidays."
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