The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19. Today, Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer 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’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto. Mayor Tory and Dr. de Villa explained the City is requesting to move to the Grey Zone next week.
The Province of Ontario is considering moving Toronto into the Grey Zone of the Lockdown Regulation under Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 8 and has consulted with the Medical Officer of Health. The Medical Officer of Health has also implemented a Section 22 Class Order, effective immediately, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act for workplaces with an active COVID-19 outbreak to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and variants of concern.
Since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 98,192 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 290 new cases today. Toronto Public Health is reporting 126 cases that have been confirmed as variants of concern following laboratory testing, with 1,468 cases screened positive as likely variants – more than double the number of screened positive cases last week. There are 285 people hospitalized. To date, there have been 2,665 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. In total, 91,837 people have recovered. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform at www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/covid-19-status-of-cases-in-toronto/.
Following three months of lockdown, the people and businesses of Toronto have – through difficult choices and sacrifices to stop the spread of COVID-19 – helped bring us to this point where we can have more flexibility in daily life. Toronto is currently in the Shutdown Zone of the provincial Lockdown Regulation and subject to a Stay-at-Home Order. A move to the Grey Zone will better align Toronto restrictions with surrounding regions and help Toronto’s economy. Businesses that closed in Toronto helped limit the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto and likely limited spread across the province. In the Grey Zone, these businesses will be permitted to reopen for limited-capacity in-person operations.
Should Toronto move from the Shutdown Zone into the Grey Zone on March 8, a number of COVID-19 precautions would change. Regardless of Zone, all people should continue to stay home as much as possible and always follow public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and another lockdown. Changes in the Grey Zone include:
Indoor organized public events and social gatherings remain limited to members of the same household and up to one individual who lives alone. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.
Outdoor organized public events and social gatherings where physical distancing can be maintained would be limited to 10 people – an increase from the five-person limit under the Shutdown Zone.
Religious services, rites and ceremonies, including wedding and funeral services, where physical distancing can be maintained are limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors.
In-person shopping would be permitted for all retail, subject to capacity limits that must be posted publicly of:
- 50 per cent capacity for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies
- 25 per cent capacity for all other retail, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres
Curbside pick-up and delivery remain permitted and the best way to ensure physical distancing while shopping.
Restrictions that remain in place
A number of restrictions would remain in place should Toronto to move from the Shutdown Zone to the Grey Zone under the Lockdown Regulation:
- Indoor and outdoor dining service at restaurants remains prohibited
- Sports and indoor recreational fitness facilities remain closed, with limited exceptions (i.e. use by high-performance athletes, use by persons with a disability for physical therapy, child care)
- Team sports, including shinny, remain prohibited at outdoor recreational amenities
- Meeting and event spaces remain closed
- Personal care services like hair and nail salons remain closed
- Indoor cinemas and performing arts facilities remain closed to the public and may be utilized only in limited circumstances (i.e. rehearsal or broadcast recording with a safety plan, contact list management and other conditions for safe operation)
Section 22 Class Order
Effective immediately, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has issued a Section 22 Class Order for workplaces in active outbreak, in order to provide additional protections in workplaces and to help prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus and Variants of Concern.
The Class Order outlines additional public health requirements that apply to all workplaces in Toronto that have an active outbreak of COVID-19. The purpose of the Class Order is to mitigate COVID-19 spread while in active outbreak by enhancing public health measures and supporting case management. The Section 22 Class Order is made under the authority of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Under the Section 22 Class Order, all persons who own or operate a workplace will be required to comply with additional public health measures, including the following, during the period in which the workplace is in an active outbreak of COVID-19:
- Ensure the use of masks by every worker in the workplace at all times for the duration of the outbreak. The only exceptions are if a worker is eating or drinking or other limited exemptions.
- Follow Toronto Public Health instructions pertaining to COVID-19 testing for workers.
- For a workplace common area (i.e. washrooms, lunch rooms, change rooms):
- ensure that 2 meters distance between workers can be maintained;
- limit capacity to 25% of maximum occupancy; and
- post signage indicating the maximum number of people permitted in each common area.
- Provide contact information for a designated contact person at the workplace to manage communications and implement any additional measures as required by Toronto Public Health.
- Maintain a record of every worker that attends the workplace during the outbreak.
- Comply with instructions from infection prevention and control personnel from Toronto Public Health, including allowing entry into the workplace for inspection and to support enhanced infection prevention and control measures.
- Post Toronto Public Health signage about physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing.
The Section 22 Class Order provides a new tool for Toronto Public Health to ensure rigorous public health measures are followed, in order to mitigate workplace outbreaks and support case management. This Class Order complements other public health measures put in place for workplaces, including regulations under the Reopening Ontario Act, the existing Letter of Instruction to all workplaces issued pursuant to the Reopening Ontario Act, and Toronto Public Health guidance documents for workplaces. Workers and other people who have COVID-19, have the symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of a person with COVID-19 are required to isolate in accordance with the Class Order issued by the Medical Officer of Health on April 1, 2020 and amended on November 6, 2020: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/8d2b-MOH-Order-April-1-2020-_with-MOH-electronic-signature.pdf. COVID-19: Guidelines for Businesses & Community Organizations are available on toronto.ca: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-reopening-recovery-rebuild/covid-19-reopening-guidelines-for-businesses-organizations/.
The full Class Order can be found online: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-what-you-should-do/covid-19-orders-directives-by-laws/?accordion=class-order-for-workplaces-experiencing-a-covid-19-outbreak.
Please review the City’s simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for recommended and mandatory public health measures. The guide communicates some of what is and what is not permitted under provincial regulations and City bylaws. The guide can be found at www.toronto.ca/lockdownguide.
“I want to thank the vast majority of Toronto residents and businesses for their patience and their sacrifices. The second wave and the resulting lockdown was in some respects more difficult than the first. We have made progress in stopping the spread of the virus and we have been careful as the variants of concern have started to surface. I am very confident that we can move forward out of the Stay-at-Home order that we have been under since Christmas and i believe that this approach, taken in a manner consistent with public health advice, will give us our best chance to move forward into the other framework zones and continue along a path which leads to a return to a more normal life as it relates to work, play and just living.”
- Mayor John Tory
“Throughout the pandemic, my decisions have been informed by the best available evidence and science. I have never decided easily to recommend restrictions for Toronto, as each action comes with benefits and costs. Our current case counts indicate that a cautious reopening approach is reasonable at this time with the additional protections for workplaces to help prevent further virus spread. We have seen the results when everyone is working toward the same goal. The more we keep practising steps for self-protection, the sooner we will get to where we all want to be, enjoying life in our city more like it was before.”
- Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
“Each stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether under full lockdown or partial re-opening, has made it clear that we need to ramp up our protections for essential and frontline workers. With variants of concern confirmed in our city's workplaces, Toronto Public Health is scaling up workplace safety measures and collaborating with the Province to increase proactive workplace inspections and enforcement. By enforcing public health protections in workplaces, we can stop outbreaks before they start – protecting both our essential and frontline workers, and the city as a whole.”
- Councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Board of Health