News Release
March 24, 2020

This afternoon, Toronto’s Medical Office of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management, Matthew Pegg, provided an update on the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 response and the implications of the Toronto and Ontario emergency declarations.

As of 1 p.m. today there are 280 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toronto. More cases are expected because community transmission is occurring. The City reminds residents to respect the privacy of those who have tested positive for the virus.

The formal declaration of a municipal emergency made yesterday by Toronto Mayor John Tory, as recommended by Dr. de Villa and Chief Pegg, enables the City of Toronto to remain nimble and able to address the evolving public health situation. This declaration strengthens recommendations already made by the Medical Officer of Health to cease all non-essential work and activities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Mayor is now empowered to issue orders, implement the City’s Emergency Plan, and better protect the health, safety, and welfare of individuals within our city.

Essential services in Toronto are continuing without interruption. Emergency response by first responders and the public health response to COVID-19 is ongoing. Our utilities, including clean, safe water, continue to be delivered. Social supports across the city are ramping up to provide emergency assistance to those who need it and protect vulnerable members of our community. New community and private sector partnerships are being sought out to aid in the City response.

The Province of Ontario also declared a state of emergency yesterday. Similar to the municipal declaration, the provincial declaration provides additional tools and resources to respond to this extraordinary situation. A key tool of the declaration is the ordered closure of non-essential businesses. More information on the Province’s declaration is available here:

City of Toronto Municipal Licensing & Standards is now participating in a joint operation with Toronto Public Health and the Toronto Police Service to ensure non-essential businesses are complying with the order to close. Compliance audits started this morning at 8 a.m. across the city and will continue 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Non-essential businesses found to be open may be provided with a Notice under the Provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The best way for Torontonians to contribute to the public health response and protect themselves and their loved ones is to stay home and practise physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread. If you have urgent questions about whether a business that is continuing to operate is essential, call 311.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports, and economic recovery measures. Check for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

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