toronto pandemic three years

It's now been exactly 3 years since Ontario declared a state of emergency over COVID-19

Exactly three years ago today, on March 17, 2020, a state of emergency was declared in Ontario over the COVID-19 pandemic — and our worlds were forever changed.

On St. Patrick's Day 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced the provincial closure of schools and childcare centres, entertainment venues and recreational programs in an attempt to "flatten the curve," of the virus.

At the time, many thought this state of emergency would last just a couple of weeks, not yet understanding the magnitude of the disease.

It was on Jan. 25, 2020 that Toronto confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus after a 50-year-old man returned from China and was treated at Sunnybrook Hospital.

Just days before Dougie ordered the state of emergency, it was announced that public schools would close for two weeks.

Less than two weeks later, the provincial government ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, kicking off the beginning of some very lengthy and hard financial times for many local businesses.

On March 31, as the situation quickly worsened, Toronto decided to scrap all major gatherings until June.

Less than two months later, photos from a packed Trinity Bellwoods Park spark outrage and worry, with virtually no social distancing shown in the footage.

Us 20-30-year-olds were slammed for not taking the pandemic situation seriously and putting others at risk, just days after entering Stage 1.

This event sparked the now infamous painted distancing circles in the park, which were an attempt to allow people to get fresh air while staying distant.

December of 2020 saw the province enter full lockdown, with no access to dining, entertainment, personal care services or basically anything else.

In April of 2021, the province entered a four-week lockdown with the use of the pandemic emergency break.

Then came early June 2021, when the province entered Stage 2 of reopening (except for Windsor and Peel,) and it almost felt like things were slowly getting "back to normal."

That is, until Sept. 25, when Doug brought in more lockdown measures as positive cases soared. Restaurants were ordered to close by 11 p.m.

On Boxing Day of 2021, a provincial-wide lockdown was in place again with the immediate closure of all non-essential businesses required.

Just days later, another state of emergency and stay-at-home order was put in place.

One of the most contentious events of the pandemic came in Sept. 2021, when the province announced a proof of vaccination program to enter restaurants, nightclubs and venues, gyms, sporting events, casinos, strip clubs, and basically all other entertainment settings.

The beginning of 2022 saw the province allow businesses to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, and May 2022 saw former Toronto Mayor John Tory formally ending the city's state of emergency after more than 700 days.

In November of last year, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, caught major heat after telling the public to continue masking... after being spotted at a Toronto Life party without a mask on.

Of course, there were a lot more than just these significant dates, but the last three years have really mashed into one gigantic mess for me, so it's kind of hard to differentiate moments in time. 

Now three years later, Canada has seen approximately 4.6 million cases of COVID-19, according to the federal government, with a total of 51,624 deaths.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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