Toronto declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- Toronto Mayor John Tory has declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement comes a day after public health officials reported the city’s first death and a few hours after a large spike in confirmed positive cases in the province.
“We are declaring a state of emergency as part of the city's ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Tory said Monday at a news conferance. “The first death was a turning point and it lead to very serious discussions.”
Tory said he made the decision after receiving advice Monday morning from Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.
“At this time, given where we are, we fell that this was really important and allowed for that flexibility and that agility that we need in order to address the health and safety of Torontonians," de Villa said Monday.
The emergency declaration gives the mayor the authority to make decisions without the council voting process.
“It allows me to have the flexible power to change things quickly if we have to based on the advice that I receive from the medical officer of health, or the senior public service or the emergency operations people,” Tory said.
The new measures also give the mayor power to make temporary orders, including orders to keep people apart on outdoor city-owned areas like parks and playgrounds.
Tory did not say what emergency orders he’s planning to make, but said he would be seeking the advice of health officials.
Toronto Fire Services Chief Matthew Pegg said that it's the first time the city has announced a state of emergency.
The province declared a state of emergency last week, and demanded Monday that all non-essential businesses close by the end of the day Tuesday.
Toronto health officials said Monday afternoon that there were 239 positive cases of COVID-19 in the City of Toronto. There are now more than 500 cases in the province.
In a similar move, the city of Mississauga also declared a state of emergency late Monday.
“Declaring an emergency will help us act quickly to manage the impacts of COVID-19 on our residents and business during this evolving situation,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a news release.
“The health and well-being of our residents and employees is our priority. We are looking at the long-term impacts of this pandemic. Declaring an emergency along with the Region of Peel and the Province of Ontario will give us the flexibility we need as a municipality to manage the situation."