Toronto streets and highways clogged with traffic despite lockdown
With a variety of lockdown measures in effect for Toronto throughout the past seven weeks and counting, it may seem logical to assume residents have been mostly staying home and avoiding all non-essential outings (as has repeatedly been advised by public health officials) — but that doesn't actually seem to be the case.
Despite ongoing public health measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the city, Toronto roads and highways remain packed with motorists in a rush to get to their destination, wherever that may be.
I’m out for a run and traffic is really heavy. I thought Toronto was in lockdown lol— Oh Frabjous Day (Monica) (@monicarooney) January 7, 2021
Roughly one month ago, provincial science advisors released new COVID-19 projections which revealed that lockdown measures had not succeeded at limiting mobility the way they did in the spring.
I live in Toronto but had a dental appointment in Oakville yesterday. Four to six times the amount of traffic on the QEW compared to March and April 2020. For a variety of good and bad reasons people are not staying home.— Kathy Schreiber (@KathySchreiber6) January 9, 2021
And earlier today, the Toronto Star shared new cell phone mobility data for the GTA which indicated that approximately 101,500 people traveled outside their home region just before the province-wide shutdown came into effect on Boxing Day.
There was so much traffic last Saturday evening downtown Toronto that it felt for a moment like we weren't in a pandemic at all...— Peter Kuskis (@PeterKuskis) January 11, 2021
New data offers clues on why COVID-19 surged in Ontario after holidays https://t.co/3Qyx0OETZo
According to Apple's COVID-19 Mobility Trend Report, driving levels in Toronto are currently 30 per cent below the typical baseline level for the city, while walking rates are down by 38 per cent and transit rates are 68 per cent below the baseline.
But the report also reveals that driving rates actually spiked well above the baseline just several weeks ago.
Many Toronto residents have also taken to social media to share anecdotal evidence of busy streets and highways in recent days, leading some to ask where people are even going since almost all businesses and services are shut down.
But regardless of why and where people are travelling, it's clear that Toronto driving levels are a reflection of how well the current lockdown restrictions are working (hint: not very).
"During the spring lockdown people stayed home. Toronto Public Health can see that in anonymous data from Blue Dot Mobility," wrote Mayor John Tory on Twitter earlier this month.
"We need people to stay home again as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our healthcare system."
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