As hardware stores and garden centres open today, Ontario has begun to move into a new phase of its COVID-19 response. I think it is important to recognize that people are going to have different reactions to the loosening restrictions. Some people are going to feel like we are not moving fast enough to re-open the economy and others are going to feel like we have moved too quickly. As public health messages from different geographies continue to differ, people are going to have vastly different understandings and interpretations of those messages.
To stay safe in this pandemic requires being on the same page as everyone else in your household. I know for some households in Toronto, this is more difficult than for others. Households with roommates have very different experiences sharing communal space, and don't always have the same kind of control about who comes and goes within their household bubble. It can be awkward having to manage different expectations when it comes to physical distancing, especially when people perceive the severity of the situation in different ways.
In small Toronto apartments, negotiating everything from who gets to use the kitchen when, or sit at the dining room table to work, can be fraught conversations. As restrictions ease up, the need to have ongoing discussions with your roommates will be higher than ever. The best thing you can do to stay safe is control your own behaviour. Keep surfaces clean, communicate with each other regularly and make your expectations about the level of physical distancing clear. Try to keep two metres apart from your roommates even inside.
Because information and recommendations are changing so fast, it is more important than ever to seek out and listen to trusted sources on COVID-19, especially for local advice and best practices. The City of Toronto and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health are still providing daily updates, and these can be very informative and helpful to understanding what is happening and why.
In Toronto, the advice remains the same. Now is not the time to ease up on our commitment to physical distancing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Stay home as much as possible, and do not visit friends or family. When you do have to go outside, the best thing you can do to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face as much as possible and maintain a physical distance of two metres from others. If you choose to visit a retail environment, remember that physical distancing might not be possible to be maintained. A cloth mask or face covering is strongly recommended to keep your germs from spreading to others even if you have no symptoms.
I know that this is incredibly difficult, and I am proud everyday of the way Torontonians have shown up to meet this challenge. The next few weeks are going to continue to be hard as we carefully monitor the impacts of these loosened restrictions. But we are strongest when we look out for each other and act in a way that protects our communities.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout goes to everyone who donated, shared and supported Yonge Street Mission’s recent social campaign, #YSMRelay to raise $330,000 over 11 weeks. When I initially launched this initiative with Capital Developments, I knew we would eventually reach our fundraising goal but I had no idea that we would exceed it in a matter of over a week! In 10 days, $346,500 was raised by the corporate community. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Yonge Street Mission is the largest food bank in the Downtown East, and our local residents are so grateful for everything YSM does for our community and beyond. While we’ve reached our goal, they still need our support. Learn more on how you can support here.
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com to share examples of community care in your neighbourhood and ways you are supporting your community at this time. I’ll be happy to promote it, space permitting, in our communication to the residents and business owners in Ward 13. Every bit goes a long way!
Keep Practising Physical Distance!
As the City of Toronto evokes these new measures for public health, please remember to keep practising social distancing. I know it’s challenging, and I thank you for your continued hard work. Please remember to stay off of closed parks amenities and facilities, or you may be subjected to a fine. If you must leave your home, please stay at least 6 feet (2 metres) away from others on the streets. These measures are crucial to protect the greater public health.
The single best way for Torontonians to support each other right now is to stay home and practise physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 spread.
- If you have symptoms of illness, do not leave your home under any circumstance until you have spoken with a medical professional and been given the all-clear.
- If you have just returned from travel, do not leave your home under any circumstance for 14 days.
- And even if you are not sick and have not travelled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home except for essential trips.
Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please visit www.toronto.ca/covid-19.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Updates
Providing Food to Scarborough Residents
The City of Toronto, GlobalMedic and the University of Toronto Scarborough have launched CARES – Collective Action and Response for Everyone in Scarborough. CARES will be packaging food at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Highland Hall Events Centre, supplied by GlobalMedic, to be distributed to food banks across Scarborough.
CARES is one of the many programs that came to fruition after the City launched a robust plan to address the ongoing need for emergency food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City has been working closely with community and corporate partners to ensure that residents have access to food and to address food security gaps in vulnerable communities. Register to volunteer here. You can read the full news release here.
ShopHERE Launches to Help Local Businesses and Artists
Today, the City of Toronto launched ShopHERE, a program to help Toronto independent businesses and artists open a free online store to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ShopHERE will provide Toronto independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store, which will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days. Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students.
The program will provide Toronto’s independent businesses and artists with:
- A template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized with their information, branding, logo, etc.;
- Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store;
- Training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store; and,
- Access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store.
The initial program is available now through the end of August and the City's goal is to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists.
The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform. Businesses and artists can sign up here.
High Park Partial Reopening
This morning, the City completed removal of fencing around High Park. As of last night, the park’s green space and trails can again be used to get exercise and fresh air. Park amenities are still closed, and the physical distancing bylaw remains in effect. Enforcement officers will be in the park to ensure physical distancing and prevent crowding near lingering cherry blossoms.
City of Toronto Support for Retail Stores Reopening Today
As the Province of Ontario moves towards reopening businesses, services and public spaces in stages, the City of Toronto has a plan to support retail stores as they reopen for curbside pickup and delivery on Monday.
Today, all retail stores with a street entrance can begin to offer curbside pickup and delivery. A street entrance refers to a public entrance that opens onto a street or exterior sidewalk. Hardware stores, safety supply stores, garden centres and nurseries are already permitted to be open for in-store payment and purchases and are operating under the same guidelines that grocery stores and pharmacies have been following. For retail stores located within indoor shopping malls, their public entrance only opens to the interior of the shopping mall. Therefore, these shopping mall retail businesses must remain closed at this time.
The Emergency Operations Centre has worked with Toronto Public Health, the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, Transportation Services and other City divisions to develop guidelines for businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage physical distancing. For more information, including examples of how business owners can help keep employees and customers safe, please read the news release.
Province of Ontario Updates
Retail Stores Open for Curbside Pickup and Delivery
Starting today, the Ontario government is allowing retail stores with a street entrance to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Over the weekend, garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores began offering in-store purchasing. All retailers should follow available safety guidelines in order to protect staff, consumers and the general public during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and its health and safety association partners have released over 80 sector-specific health and safety guidelines, including guidelines for curbside pickup and delivery services. The Ministry of Health has also released a Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces. Business owners should use these guidelines to develop reopening plans that work for their business and protect workers, customers and the general public as the province prepares for the gradual reopening of the economy.
Easing restrictions on retail stores is aligned with the first phase of the government's Framework for Reopening our Province, Protect and Support, which allows for businesses that can operate safely to do so. The Framework also includes guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces, and sets out the criteria Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on adjusting or loosening public health measures.
For the government’s full announcement, please see here.
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves are Open for Limited Recreational Activities
The Ontario government is opening provincial parks and conservation reserves for limited day-use access. The first areas will open today, May 11, 2020, with the remaining areas opening on Friday May 15, 2020. At this time, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.
In total, 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves across the province have opened, and the remaining 115 will open on the following Friday for limited day-use activities. At this time, camping and other activities are not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including washrooms, water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds and beaches continue to be closed.
Over the next several weeks, Ontario Parks' staff will be conducting critical maintenance and other parks start-up procedures, so that more recreational activities and facilities will be available when it is safe to do so.
Before planning your trip, please visit www.ontarioparks.com/park-locator to check the status of your local provincial park.
Government of Canada Updates
The Federal government announced the creation of a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide assistance to Canada’s largest businesses to help weather the economic downturn and provide for economic recovery.
Companies seeking to obtain the assistance of LEEFF will need to demonstrate several measures, including respecting collective bargaining agreements and protecting workers’ pensions and will require strict limits to dividends, share buy-backs, and executive pay. Companies will also have to public annual reports about how their future operations support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.
Details have not yet been released, but you can read Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of the LEEFF here.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.
Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Call if you develop symptoms!
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Telephone: 311 (The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)