Toronto mayor pleads for non-essential businesses to close amid COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- Mayor John Tory is pleading with non-essential businesses to close their doors and warns that different levels of government are ready to step in if they don’t heed the advice soon.
Tory spoke to CP24 Sunday morning as he continued to self-isolate in his home following a return from abroad 10 days ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message comes on the heels of Toronto’s medical officer of health singling out hair salons, nail salons and clothing stores as some of the businesses that ought to “do the right thing” and close in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
“I accept the fact and in fact I would endorse that they (businesses) are trying hard to keep their people working but they are not essential. Furniture stores, car dealerships, clothing stores, they are not essential,” Tory said. “You would like to think given the advice given by the chief medical officer of health that all businesses that are not essential should close that that’s exactly what would happen but it isn’t."
"Look we will issue orders if we have to, it would likely come from the province, but you could decide earlier than that (to close). You Mr. car dealership, you Ms. clothing store, you Ms. whatever other kind of business that doesn’t need to be open can decide right now and make a contribution to fighting this virus.”
The province has ordered the closure of all bars, nightclubs and restaurants that don’t serve takeout as well as a host of other entertainment and recreational venues.
Numerous other non-essential businesses have also closed of their own volition, including large retailers like Ikea and Hudson’s Bay Company.
Speaking with CP24, Tory said that there are now “day-by-day discussions” taking place around whether more formal steps need to be taken to force the closure of some businesses that continue to operate, especially after long lineups were reported outside a Yonge Street video game store for a new product release on Friday.
He said that the province is also “very actively engaged” in the difficult task of trying to define what is and isn’t essential amid a global pandemic.
“The faster that happens the better we are going to be in fighting this virus and getting that curve to go down,” he said.
Tory to speak with major landlords
As the city continues to deal with the fallout from a worsening COVID-19 outbreak, Tory said that he is planning to hold a teleconference with a group of major landlords and landlord associations on Monday to get a sense for what relief they are willing to offer tenants.
He said that while the province has prohibited all eviction proceedings for now, he wants to impress upon landlords the need to be flexible in these "challenging times.”
“We have limited legislative powers to deal with this, but I would hope just common sense and the power of moral persuasion would cause them to say that they are going to make allowances for people who can’t pay the rent,” he said. “I will be taking that up with them directly and then talking to the province if I don’t get the kind of answers that satisfy me about different ways of making sure that people are not in effect harassed about rent that they just can’t pay because they don’t have money.”
In addition to speaking with landlords on Monday, Tory said that he also plans to have a conversation with representatives from a number of construction companies about precautions they are taking to protect workers, most of whom remain on the job.
“My message will be that if you can’t guarantee us that you are going to make sure those hygiene products are available or if you can’t guarantee that your workers can be kept a reasonable distance apart than we are going to have to discuss other measures,” Tory said.