‘Every alarm bell has now been rung’: John Tory backs Doug Ford’s tighter COVID-19 restrictions, blitz on big-box stores
Jan. 13, 2021
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he supports the announcement by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday, declaring a provincial state of emergency and issuing a stay-at-home order that goes into effect early Thursday.
“I have been calling for further action, based on the advice of Toronto Public Health, and I want to thank Premier Ford and his cabinet for listening to public health experts and taking some additional needed actions,” Tory said in a statement.
The stay-at-home order means residents must remain in their homes, except for buying groceries, medical appointments, going to the pharmacy and exercise. The order is in effect for 28 days. Students will not return to schools until at least Feb. 10 in Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex.
Residents are also being asked to wear masks in public at all times, including outdoors, if they cannot maintain a two-metre (six-foot) distance from others.
“I support the stay-at-home order, the extension of at-home learning for students in Toronto, and extended mask wearing -- these are the right thing to do,” said Tory.
The provincial order comes with a heightened threat of enforcement -- bylaw officers and police officers have been told to disperse crowds of five people or more and ticket those who refuse to comply. Penalties for breaching the provincial orders include up to a year in jail.
Ford made the announcement hours after new provincial modelling was released that paints a dark picture at a time when the health-care system is already at the brink of collapse. A new, more contagious form of the virus is circulating in Ontario which could lead to cases doubling every 10 days instead of the current rate of every 35-40 days.
Ford promised a tougher approach to big-box stores that fail to properly control crowds and abide by limits on the number of shoppers, promising to “come down on them like an 800-pound gorilla,” if they don’t comply, a move that was welcomed by Toronto’s mayor.
“The blitz of big-box stores is welcome, but if it proves inadequate I hope the government won’t hesitate to take further action,” Tory said.
He said he also expects Ontario to solidify its commitment to stop residential evictions.
“People should not be put out of their housing during a health emergency,” Tory said.
He said the city is reviewing the new measures and regulations, and will immediately implement required changes to municipal services.
“Ontario’s COVID numbers are going in the wrong direction -- like many other jurisdictions around the world -- and could very quickly get much worse, meaning even more people becoming infected, even more people being hospitalized, and even more people tragically dying in our communities,” Tory said.
“Every alarm bell has now been rung,” he added, urging everyone to stay home to save lives.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, said Toronto Public Health welcomes the new restrictions, given current local circumstances and the seriousness of the situation.