toronto lockdown

Cell phone and traffic data reveal people in Toronto are going out more

While Toronto still has nearly two more weeks to go under the current lockdown and stay-at-home order restrictions, new data show that residents are already starting to go out and move around the city more and more. 

Speaking during the city's COVID-19 press briefing Monday afternoon, Mayor John Tory said he received a report from Transportation Services earlier that morning which showed that city-wide traffic volumes during the morning peak increased significantly last week. 

"Probably as a result of the return to school," he noted. "This was a similar change to what was observed at the start of the school year last September."

The mayor said the report showed that average travel times were also higher last week, though city staff believe this may have been driven by the heavy snowfall.

Still, as a result of the data, Tory encouraged everyone to stay the course — reminding the public that now is simply not the time to stop following the rules.

"People are in fact starting to move around more, perhaps thinking, incorrectly, that improving case counts mean that is okay," he said. "Unfortunately, it is not okay."

Tory added that while he does hope to see the city transition into the province's colour-coded framework in two weeks' time, he believes a plan to help people go on responsible, safe outings is needed. 

Among the recommendations, he said, should be the directive to avoid region-hopping at all costs. 

In December, before the province-wide shutdown came into effect, data showed that tens of thousands of Toronto residents left the city to travel to other regions to access services that were already closed here. 

Tory meanwhile noted Monday that while there is no official region-hopping ban, residents are discouraged from leaving their home region and should instead reduce their mobility as much as possible. 

"The lockdown has been working to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our community," he said, "but please, don't get complacent or give up on this work."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Toronto has been using data from your flushed poop to track the pandemic's spread

Ontario's top doctor says we all need to learn to live with COVID

Ontario releases new restriction details ahead of next week's reopening

Toronto hit with another extreme cold warning with temperatures feeling like -35

People in Ontario denounce 'Karen Konvoy' and call for support of frontline workers

People came up with the most hilarious names for Toronto's new tunnel boring machines

Toronto removed 45,000 tonnes of snow in city's largest removal operation ever

Toronto area police bust recovers 200 stolen vehicles worth $11 million