As the COVID-19 crisis worsens, government actions to control public behaviour increases. Today, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa formalised several measures (see below) which were previously strongly recommended but not legally required. As of today, those who don’t comply will be subject to legal penalties.
Over the past two weeks, the number of cases in Toronto has increased by 500%. Urgent action is required to flatten that trajectory to avoid the tragic situations we see in other large cities. The difference between containing the virus or losing control of it depends on our behaviour. We need everyone’s co-operation.
Stay at home orders apply only to individuals who have the virus, have been exposed to someone who has, or who are returning from international travel. But we are asking you to avoid going out except as absolutely necessary. That goes for everyone but is especially important for those 70 and older.
If your grocery or drug stores deliver, plan ahead for that. My office is currently compiling a list of stores which accept online payment and delivery. If you are as technologically challenged as me and need some help setting up online services, get help from a more savvy family remember, friend or neighbour.
If you must go out, stay two metres away from others and avoid touching any surfaces. The same rules apply if you go for an outdoor walk, which is not being discouraged at this time — provided you do it safely.
On a more uplifting note, I received a lovely response to my link to a recording of Stand By Me in Monday’s email. It read in part: “We stayed up until all hours just letting it play and even had a wee dance around the dining room table. This is what spending some time with yourself is supposed to be. Just playing music and letting it take us back to special moments in our lives.”
Today’s music link to Teach Your Children is a reminder that all ages can learn from one another, and that whatever wisdom and values we are able to pass along can last a lifetime.
And now for today’s updates and information links:
Today’s statement by Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, can be found online here.
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IMPORTANT NOTICE To stop the spread of COVID-19, and help people and the economy rebound more quickly, the following measures will take effect immediately for up to 12 weeks:
All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered by the Medical Officer of Health to stay home, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for 14 day
All individuals who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are also ordered to stay home for 14 days
Anyone who is not ill or has not travelled, is strongly directed to stay home except for the following reasons:
accessing healthcare or medication
shop for groceries once per week
walk their dogs
get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres
People returning from international travel must stay home, already a federal order
Anyone over the age of 70, as the province announced this week, is strongly encouraged to stay home as much as possible
Increased supports for self-isolation for those experiencing homelessness
Only essential businesses remain open, and those businesses maximize physical distancing and infection prevention and control practices, and limit in-person access to those businesses, as much as possible
Increased cleaning and active screening of employees at all businesses.
City Closures Extended City facilities and City-operated programs will continue to be closed until further notice.
City Event Cancellation Notice To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mayor John Tory announced yesterday the cancellation of all major City-led events, festivals, conferences and cultural programs, and all City permits for major events organized by external groups at civic centres and squares, parks, public spaces (including road closures), City-operated museums and cultural centres through June 30 (with the possibility of extension). Among the major events impacted include Doors Open Toronto, Indigenous Arts Festival, Pride Toronto, and NXNE Music.
Mental Health Support With the outbreak of COVID-19, many people are feeling anxious or experiencing stress. Whether in self-isolating or practising physical distancing, it is important to connect with friends and family through the phone or online. Check in by phone or other means of physical distancing with loved ones, friends and colleagues who may be struggling.
Individuals looking for crisis support can reach out to Crisis Services Canada, available 24/7 at crisisservicescanada.ca, by phone at 1-833-456-4566 or by text message at 45645. In an emergency, always call 911. More information on COVID-19 crisis and mental health supports are listed on the website at toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-health-advice.
211 Residents who need information on social/community supports and services should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 service that connects residents to social and community services. Visit http://211toronto.ca.
Support For Tenants If you are a tenant looking for more information on housing and income support, you can find a list of helpful resources here: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/?accordion=housing-support-for-tenants.
Yard Waste A reminder that the City of Toronto has suspended yard waste pickup for now. Store your yard waste on your property until service resumes. For more on City services affected by COVID-19, go to https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/affected-city-services/
Ontario Teams With Manufacturers To Build Medical Equipment The Ontario government is launching a new $50 million fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or to retool their operations to manufacture essential medical supplies. Businesses and individuals can submit proposals through the Ontario Together web portal.
Schools Closures Pushed Until May Provincial Educational Minister Stephen Lecce announced Tuesday that schools will remain closed to students until Monday, May 4, 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed until April 13.
Financial and Academic Support For Students Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the province is temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans until September 30, 2020. During this time, borrowers will not be required to make any loan payments and interest will not accrue on their OSAP loans. The government is also looking to support students by making online learning, including year-end exams, available to post-secondary institutions. Additionally, the province is distributing $25 million in additional funds to public colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes to help with any pressing needs.
Parks and Amenities Closed The Province has also closed all outdoor recreational amenities such as sports fields and playgrounds, outdoor community gardens, off-leash dog parks, condo parks and gardens. The public can access green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that remain open, but they must practice physical distancing (remain two metres apart from others). Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed.
Canadian Emergency Response Benefit Ottawa announced today that starting April 6, Canadians can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The benefit will provide Canadians who have lost income because of COVID-19 with $2,000 a month for up to 4 months. To learn if you are eligible for CERB, click here.