News Release
March 19, 2021

The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. This weekend, to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect the healthcare system and save lives, it remains imperative for all people to comply with provincial orders, City bylaws and public health guidance.

Toronto remains in the Grey – Lockdown Zone of the provincial COVID-19 response framework. Today, the Province of Ontario announced outdoor dining will be permitted in areas in the Grey – Lockdown Zone as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 20, subject to physical distancing rules and a number of other public health and workplace safety measures.

The Province is limiting tables for outdoor dining in the Grey Zone to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers.

Provincial officials committed Friday to continuing to work with local medical officers of health in areas in the Grey Zone to determine what targeted adjustments to public health measures may be made to allow for some outdoor activities where the risk of transmission is minimized.

Toronto Public Health and the City have been working with the Province to arrive at a public health policy solution within the Grey Zone that manages the spread of COVID-and addresses the mental wellness of Toronto residents. Earlier this week, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa asked Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams for a unique approach that recognizes that activities that take place outdoors, such as outdoor dining, are associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The request for this cautious approach balances the impact of the pandemic on the community with the current limited vaccine supply, the emergence of variants of concern and improving weather conditions that will permit more effective use of outdoor space. Dr. de Villa requested increased vaccine supply for Toronto. Toronto has had, and continues to have, amongst the highest levels of COVID-19 activity in the province. Making more vaccine available to the City should help manage risk for all of Ontario.

Since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 104,911 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 644 new cases today. There are 251 people hospitalized. To date, there have been 2,743 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. In total, 97,457 people have recovered. Case status data can be found on the Toronto Public Health’s reporting dashboard.

As Toronto awaits the rollout of mass immunization, the City continues to urge all residents to stay home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Please review the City’s simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for recommended and mandatory public health measures under provincial regulations and City bylaws.


“I want to thank the Province for listening to our public health officials and approving modifications to the Grey Zone starting with outdoor dining this weekend. We are working to move ahead cautiously, based on the public health advice, while still keeping our guard up and doing everything we can to get people vaccinated.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Given that we are seeing an increase in our case counts and in variants of concern, this cautious approach recognizes the lower risk of transmission in outdoor spaces while supporting the mental health and well-being. Modest steps forward in the realm of outdoor activity are a good proving ground at this time.”

– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

“Right now, while we work to expedite the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, we must not let our guard down. Variants of concern are continuing to spread in our city, and we have to remain cautious. At the same time, we know that effective public health measures meet residents where they are at, and that people want to be outdoors increasingly as the weather warms up. That means carefully exploring how we can facilitate safer outdoor activities, that still include strong health protections for Torontonians.”

– Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Board of Health

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media Relations