ontario curfew

Ontario expected to implement curfew for Toronto and here's what that could mean

It appears that a curfew may very well be the latest addition to the extreme lockdown restrictions residents of Ontario have been living under for over two weeks, and that those in Toronto have had to face for seven.

Premier Doug Ford had initially eschewed such drastic measures, but is apparently reconsidering given recent COVID-19 numbers and the fact that neighbouring Quebec is ordering residents to remain home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. for at least the next month, a rule that came into effect on Saturday.

If a curfew were to be introduced for either hotspot regions like Toronto or the province as a whole, it would mean residents could be fined for being found off their property between select hours, most likely the same window as in Quebec, where offenders can be charged up to $6,000.

Those leaving the house for essential work or other purposes like walking their pets would ostensibly be granted an exception, but it is unclear if food delivery drivers or restaurant staff would fall under this umbrella.

There is also the question of what residents experiencing homelessness are to do under such rules.

Though the most recent iteration of lockdown has meant heavy-handed shutdowns of all "non-essential" businesses such as retail stores, bars and restaurants (save for pickup and delivery services), the province has seen more than 3,000 new cases of the virus per day for a week — one stat of above 4,000 was due to a data backlog of old cases — among a population of 14.5 million people.

Numbers have been notably higher than during the first wave, leading some to wonder how effective stringent lockdown has been, and if it has been worth the toll it's had on small businesses, many of which have proven that they contributed very little to virus spread.

Health officials have said that residents continuing to get together despite an outright ban on private indoor gatherings is definitely a factor in infection rates, with Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health saying that "the fewer people we have mixing at this point is perhaps the most important defence against COVID-19 that's under our control."

Measures such as curfews, which some consider draconian, have proven effective along with other restrictions in cities such as Melbourne, though Australia's strict rules on inbound travelers has certainly been a huge factor in its success at getting rid of the communicable disease.

In places such as California, however, case counts remain high despite similar stay at home orders that have been in place since November.

There has been substantial backlash to the idea of a curfew in Ontario, with many wondering what scientific evidence proves one would be effective, especially when it would potentially just make essential businesses and public places more crowded by limiting the hours people can be out of their homes.

There are also the risks of further damaging struggling businesses and the mental health of a population that has already endured so much this past year.

Sources initially told outlets such as Global News that a curfew was slated to be announced sometime this week, likely Tuesday rather than today, though Toronto Mayor John Tory had urged the province to make a decision on more restrictions sooner than later.

It was confirmed later on Monday that a curfew is not in fact in the cards for Ontario — at least not yet.

Lead photo by

Amber Dawn Pullin

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