City of Toronto presents COVID-19 Resurgence Plan

Today, Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, City Manager Chris Murray and City Councillor and Chair of Toronto Board of Health Joe Cressy, presented the City’s COVID-19 Resurgence Plan, which outlines priorities and associated actions that the City will implement in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19.

The five priority areas of the City’s response are:

  • implement public health measures
  • support vulnerable populations
  • support City employees
  • mitigate the impact to Toronto’s economy and
  • ensure the resiliency of City services and a coordinated response.
The City, including its agencies and corporations, conducted a review of its COVID-19 response during the first wave in order to identify what worked well, challenges and practical actions to improve preparedness for future resurgences of COVID-19. Additionally, the plan takes into account the colder weather of the coming months and the associated impacts on people and services.

To reduce further COVID-19 spread and protect our city as we live with this virus, Toronto Public Health (TPH) continues to advance plans and strategies based on scientific evidence and on best practices from international jurisdictions. TPH has increased staffing to enhance the capacity to trace and contact people with COVID-19 and those with whom they have had contact.

TPH is also advising and partnering with key agencies and organizations in the city, is implementing response activity based on local data, and will be active directly in the community through containment strategies including community outreach teams, and a voluntary self-isolation site for people with COVID-19 who cannot properly isolate at home.

The City is planning for several potential scenarios with measures that will be based on the advice of the Medical Officer of Health. Some of the City’s plans include:

  • Childcare: Increased health and safety protocols have been implemented across child care facilities. In the event licensed child care centres are required to close, the City is prepared to return to operating free Emergency Child Care for essential workers, should the Provincial government fund these centres once again.
  • Long-Term Care Homes: Long-Term Care remains focused on adherence to and implementation of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Toronto Public Health guidelines to keep residents and staff members safe. Priority actions include: continuing to implement Infection Prevention and Control best practices and lessons learned in the first wave, ensuring stability of staffing resources and allowing designated “essential visitors/caregivers” into homes to support residents during outbreaks.
  • Parks and Recreation facilities: Increased health and safety protocols are in place for programs, facilities and park amenities. In the event recreation facilities and park amenities are required to close, the City is prepared to move quickly and scale back to critical services. To respond to vulnerable populations and emergency social services, the City is prepared to adapt facilities to create food distribution sites, shelter system expansion and respite resources.
  • Bylaw enforcement: Municipal Licensing and Standards bylaw enforcement, which leads a coordinated enforcement team made up of nine City Divisions and Toronto Police, will prioritize provincial orders and City bylaws pertaining to COVID-19 along with emergency and health and safety service requests.
  • Homelessness support: Shelter, Support and Housing Administration will continue to protect people experiencing homelessness and further strengthen the City’s approach to provide permanent housing as the best solution to homelessness. Protective measures such as physical distancing will remain in place in shelter facilities.
  • Homelessness support cold weather planning: As the weather becomes colder, plans will include maintaining additional winter space and enhanced street outreach services to assist in providing access to shelter and housing for people to move indoors from encampments. The City is also exploring a program model to operate a Warming Centre during Extreme Cold Weather Alerts.
  • Support for vulnerable residents: The City’s Community Coordination Plan brings the City together with almost 400 community agencies to coordinate support for vulnerable communities and enhance joint planning between the City and community sector. The City is prepared to scale up measures in response to a resurgence.
  • TTC: The service plan implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is scalable to the changing environment with service levels adjusted based on demand. The TTC continues to focus on protecting service on high ridership corridors to essential travel destinations. Health and safety measures implemented on the system in response to COVID-19 will continue to be sustained.
  • Toronto Public Library: The focus will be on keeping buildings open to serve communities of highest needs and pivot between digital and in-person services as needed to respond to surges in demand.
  • City buildings and facilities: Civic Centres, City Hall and Metro Hall will remain closed to the public for the near future, to continue to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the public and City employees. The City will initially ensure that building occupancies do not exceed 30 per cent in the short-term. This capacity will be scaled up or down based on infection rate and public health and occupational heath advice.
Quotes:

"Today, we outlined the plans we have in place and the work being done to prepare for a resurgence of COVID-19. This means strengthening the case, contact and outbreak management at public health, creating multilingual Community Outreach Rapid Response Teams, making sure we have focused health plans on key areas like schools and long-term care homes, and continuing to build up our supply of personal protective equipment. These plans are based on the same clear and fearless public health advice we have had throughout this pandemic, advice which we have always accepted and acted on. And all of these plans are focused on making sure we minimize the resurgence as much as possible. We've said many times that COVID-19 is a marathon not a sprint. The public should know that we have the plans in place for the next phase of this long marathon."

- Mayor John Tory

“We have learned valuable lessons from the first wave of COVID-19 in Toronto. We've learned just how critical it is that we continue to keep our distance, wash our hands, and limit crowds and large groups. We've learned about the key role of rapid testing and contact tracing. And we've seen how important access to data is understanding the impact of COVID-19 on different people and communities in our city. Now, we are taking this knowledge and incorporating it into the plans for a resurgence of the virus this fall and winter, so we can have a swift and responsive approach.”

- Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair, Board of Health

“City staff are benefitting from all we have experienced and learned over the last six months to ensure we are as prepared as possible for a resurgence. We have developed responses and escalation protocols to quickly address emerging needs. We have more information now about the virus, emerging intelligence on promising practices and impacts in other jurisdictions as well as direct experience in Toronto with response and service deactivation and re-activation, so we are well-positioned to continue to respond to the emergency as it evolves.”

- Chris Murray, City Manager

“My team is working hard to support reopening while protecting the health of Torontonians in the face of COVID-19. Virus resurgence is inevitable because most of us do not have immunity. Our success in living with the virus depends greatly on the choices we all make to minimize risk to ourselves and others in the coming months. We will continue to vigorously champion the effective protections that have served Toronto well since the pandemic began here: frequent hand washing, physical distancing and mask wearing. Making the right choices as individuals will strengthen the work by Toronto Public Health and our partners to limit the impact of COVID-19 on our city.”

- Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

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