stay at home order

Toronto mayor suggests F-bomb might be needed to convince people to stay home

While many of the details surrounding Ontario's new COVID-19 restrictions are still unclear and causing confusion more than 24 hours after Premier Doug Ford's announcement, one thing is for sure: residents of the province are required to stay home at all times unless they must go out for an essential reason. 

But while the official stay-at-home-order may be new, the advice isn't — at least not for Toronto residents who've been under some form of lockdown since November, and the city's mayor is concerned that a portion of the population will continue flouting the rules just as they have been throughout the past few months. 

When asked about the issue by a reporter during the city's COVID-19 press briefing Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said he's not sure what else can be said at this point, but maybe some profanity would help people really get the message. 

"It is frustrating, and without making any light of this at all, I've had people suggest that if I put an F-bomb in the middle of the sentence saying 'stay home' that this would maybe get people's attention because it's a very simple message, really," he said. 

"You know, unless people have extraordinary reasons such as the absolute need to go to work, like our frontline health workers and people who drive the subway and bus vehicles for us and so on, that everybody should be working from home. And that's now actually a legal requirement if you can."

Tory did say new cell phone data provided to the city today shows that more people chose to stay home over Christmas, but that doesn't change the fact that approximately 101,500 people in Ontario traveled outside of their home region just before the province-wide shutdown came into effect on Dec. 26

And during a press conference Monday afternoon, Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said the majority of the virus spread in the province is coming from long-term care, retirement homes, workplaces, and social gatherings — adding that roughly one third of Ontario's population is still socializing. 

Tory said he believes a major reason why some people are still not listening to public health advice is becaused they've lost the sense of fear they had in the spring, making it easier to rationalize irresponsible behaviour.

"The simplicity of it is actually obvious so to me," he said. "It is more that people have lost a certain sense of fear, I think, that they had of the unknown and of the virus in the spring, and now they rationalize it….This is part of the problem we have."

He then told a story of one of his staffers who watched through a window as her mother died of COVID-19 in a long-term care home, adding that maybe those who've gone through these terrible experiences should come out and tell their stories during the press conferences so residents can truly understand the horrors of what's going on.

But in the end, he said, regardless of the specifics of the province's new orders — which are expected to be released this evening — it's up to individuals to do what the city has been asking for months now.

"I don't know whether we've been not finding the right words, or not using some of the words that we needed to provide emphasis, but we've been saying that for a long time," the mayor said. 

"If people stayed home, and kept their distance, and wore a mask and washed their hands, I mean, I say this in my sleep I think now, because it is so important and the key really is for people to buy in, I think, more so than even the words of the order itself when they come," he continued. 

"I think that's even more important, if people just buy in, the remainder of those who haven't. Many people have, but there are still too many, I believe, who are rationalizing it and saying well I'm really effectively staying home except for the times I didn't... And I think we just have to sort of say no, staying home means staying home and that's the default position."

Lead photo by

thecityoftoronto


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