stay at home order

Toronto still busy and bustling despite new stay-at-home order

The Ontario government's new stay-at-home order officially came into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning and will remain in place for a period of at least 28 days to try and reduce the alarming rate of spread of COVID-19, but whether or not the measure will accomplish this goal remains undetermined. 

While the new order explicitly states that "every individual shall remain in their place of residence at all times unless leaving their place of residence is necessary" for one of several reasons, some residents have remarked on social media that the city seems equally busy — if not even more — since the rule took effect. 

People in Toronto have taken to Twitter to report that the highways in and around the city are just as clogged with traffic as they have been for months now, and others have said the city's streets are no different. 

Some people have also said the TTC is even busier now than it was prior to the new order, since more essential workers are travelling at the same time thanks to the brand new retail hours

According to Apple's COVID-19 Mobility Trend Report, as of Jan. 13, driving in Toronto was 32 per cent lower than the city's typical baseline, walking was down by 42 per cent and transit use was down by 68 per cent. 

Granted, the most recent report is from the day before the stay-at-home order took effect, but it also reveals extremely similar numbers to a report from earlier this week — before any of the new measures were announced. 

But while streets, highways, sidewalks and TTC vehicles may still be crowded with people despite the government's directive to stay home, the reality is that many members of the public currently have no choice but to leave the house each day. 

The province has not dictated which workplaces are actually considered essential, so many of Ontario's workers are being forced by employers to continue going into work despite the order. 

And Premier Doug Ford's decision not to respond to calls for legislated paid sick leave means some of those workers might be sick and spreading COVID-19 on transit and at work, but have no choice but to still show up if they want to keep putting food on the table. 

While the stay-at-home order has only been officially in place for less than 24 hours, little appears to have changed in the city in terms of mobility and crowding. 

As a result, some Ontario residents have called on the province to do more, including introducing paid sick leave, banning residential evictions (which Ford says is coming), and closing even more non-essential workplaces while providing financial relief to those without employment so people can actually do as they're told and stay home.

Lead photo by

Boris T


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