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Toronto mayor says the entire GTA should reopen together

Although Toronto is still a long way off from lifting lockdown measures and widely reopening all businesses and services, the city's mayor has provided his two cents on the process on multiple occasions over the past few weeks. 

Speaking during a housing announcement Thursday, Mayor John Tory said no date has been set for the reopening just yet, but he is in constant communication with the province about the subject and has indicated his support for a regional, staged approach. 

"I think that people should find it not surprising that the reopening that I'm sure will take place after [schools reopen] is going to be on a staged basis, as it was in the spring, where you don't suddenly open everything up and say 'We're back to business as usual,'" he said, "because that leads to a very high risk of a third or fourth wave of the virus."

The mayor added that when things do begin to open up, he believes it should be done using a regional approach, though he believes the regions should be separated differently this time around.

"I will say that as mayor of the biggest city in the province, and the biggest city in the region, one thing that I have said is that I believe that when we move to reopen, it should be done on a regional basis," he told reporters. 

"I think we saw in the pre-Christmas period that if you try to take a region that functions very much as a region in terms of how people get around and how they live their lives, and piece it off into different treatments for different parts of the region... they will go to the place where they can go and do the things they're allowed to do there if they can't do it somewhere else."

Earlier this month, data revealed that more 100,000 Toronto residents travelled to other regions of the province to shop, eat out and access personal care services before the province-wide shutdown came into effect on Boxing Day. 

"I think the benefits to be derived from regional treatment in this big region, the GTHA, of six or seven million people, and the fact that people can move around in the region as they've proven they would do before Christmas, is very advisable," Tory said.

"There are some who will disagree with that because they think they're being lumped in with Toronto or Peel or this or that, but I just think what you have to do is what's sensible and what's going to be effective at making sure that, if we have wrestled this virus at least in part to the ground, that we can keep the virus down."

The mayor said that while he does believe businesses and organizations should be able to reopen as soon as possible, the current priority is opening schools and ensuring public health remains protected.

"With respect to the specifics of what should open when, we get really good advice from our medical officer of health and her team, and we will rely on that advice and we will work then with the province to make sure that we get things open as quickly as possible," he said.

"But no quicker than should be the case in order to keep people safe and healthy and not lose all the gains that we've made during this terrible period of lockdown."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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