Tory “turns up the heat” with new physical distancing bylaw, police blitz

Top COVID-19 stories and news

Case summary

  • As of 4 pm on April 1, there are 2,793 known cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.
  • 831 cases have been resolved in the province and 53 people have died.
  • As of 1 pm on April 2, there are 897 cases in Toronto and 11 people have died.

Follow the latest Toronto news on coronavirus

4:28 pm People have removed signs and barricades in public parks: De Villa

A fed-up sounding Eileen De Villa said she’s hearing reports of people ignoring Toronto’s physical distancing rules, including people removing signs in the Sunnyside park and parking lot.

“Apparently both the park and the parking lot were full of people,” the city’s medical officer of health said during her daily update. “This is nothing short of appalling. People are dying in our city yet others think that it’s okay to hang out with their friends in groups of people. This behaviour is selfish and it contributes to virus spread in our community.”

De Villa encouraged people to resist the urge to enjoy the nicer weather together in parks and gave two “real examples” of what physical distancing does not mean:

  • Impromptu street parties, allowing children to play with each other while parents socialize 
  • “It does not mean driving to a park that is barricaded for closure and taking down the barricades”

4:13 pm Toronto reports nearly 900 cases of COVID-19

There are now 897 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, the city’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said on Thursday. The number includes 727 confirmed cases and 170 probable cases. She added there are 86 cases in hospital and 39 people are in intensive care units.

Around 26 per cent of the city’s cases are attributed to community spread and there have been 11 COVID-19 deaths. 

3:57 pm The city is blocking park entrances with concrete blocks and mounting a police blitz to enforce a new physical distancing bylaw

Walking through a park or square could cost you if you don’t follow Toronto’s new physical distancing by-law. Today, Mayor John Tory said he’s signed a by-law to impose a two-metre physical distancing rule in all city parks and public squares.

The move is one of several measure Toronto is undertaking to “lock the city down” and prevent COVID-19 spread as the number of confirmed cases are projected to increase this weekend.

Effective today, any two people who don’t live together who fail to keep two metres of distance in park or public square will be subject to prosecution and $5,000 if convicted. There is also set fine ticket $750. The law is in effect for 30 days, Tory said.

“We continue to see, especially as the weather improves, people… flocking to parks,” he said. “Even using closed playgrounds and parking lots to gather round and play sports together in the parks.”

Tory said 200 municipal bylaw inspectors have been recalled and will work with Toronto Police and Toronto Public Health to mount an ongoing blitz of parks. The city is also erecting concrete blocks similar to the ones placed in front of illegal pot dispensaries last year in front of park entrances and gates, including Sunnyside Park.

The mayor said the city has received 1,180 complaints about people not following emergency measures and that bylaw inspectors have responded to 288 complaints and issued 34 notices.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) inspectors have also gone out to 279 bars and restaurants that were considered non-compliant and shut down 94. TPH has also closed 34 nail salons and hairdressers.

“Lives are potentially at stake,” Tory said. “We will turn up the heat in the hopes the few who still don’t get it, or pretend not to get it, to get with the program.”

3:30 pm Province pledges new cash for online mental health support

The province is spending $12 million to expand online and virtual mental health supports to help Ontarians “experiencing anxiety, stress and other mental health challenges” during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The new funding was announced along with $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police personnel.

“This very difficult situation will impact different people in different ways,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford says in a statement.

With the investment, the government says mental health agencies will receive emergency funding to hire and train more staff and purchase the necessary equipment to expand online programs for young people as well.

2:05 pm TTC union asks bus drivers to limit passengers 

The union that represents TTC workers has advised bus drivers to limit the number of passengers to 10 on a regular bus and 15 riders on large buses. The union said in a statement that  some bus routes are experiencing “ongoing overcrowding” that goes against physical distancing guidelines set out by public health officials.

1:56 pm Doug Ford to release data on COVID-19 case projections to the public

On Friday, provincial officials will provide a full briefing to the public on the data they are using to track coronavirus spread. Premier Doug Ford said at his daily press briefing today that, “you deserve the same information I have. You deserve to see the same data that I see when I’m making decisions. You deserve to know what I know when you’re making decisions for yourself, your family and your community.”

Ontario’s medical experts will update the public on modelling numbers on where the province was, is and could end up.

“The situation is extremely, extremely serious,” he said. “I know many people will find this information hard to hear… the new reality is hard.”

11:15 am Ontario reports 401 new cases of COVID-19

On Thursday, public health officials reported 401 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, bringing the provincial total of known cases to 2,793. That’s a 16.8 per cent increase over yesterday’s numbers.

The number of patients in hospital is 405, 167 are in intensive care and 112 are in intensive care on a ventilator.

There are 2,052 tests pending, 831cases are resolved and 53 people have died. In all, 62,733 have been tested in Ontario.

9:32 am Canadian Blood Services working on coronavirus treatment

Canadian Blood Services says it is working with Health Canada and international researchers in a study to determine if convalescent plasma from donors who have recovered from the coronavirus could be an effective treatment.

Experts from Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States are involved in the effort.

Canadian Blood Services says researchers in Canada have designed a clinical trial and will submit an application to Health Canada “shortly.”

Dana Devine, chief scientist for Canadian Blood Services, says “Plasma will only be collected from volunteer donors who have fully recovered from the virus and will be used by Canadian physicians caring for patients with COVID-19 in the context of the clinical trial.”

Devine says that the blood of those who have contracted the virus have developed antibodies that can shield them from future infection. In theory, these antibodies could be used for a treatment to help others with the virus, Devine says.

8:28 am 800,000 foodservice jobs lost nationwide: study

National association Restaurants Canada has conducted a study on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and estimates that 800,000 foodservice jobs have been lost nationwide since March 1. More than 300,000 of those jobs were in Ontario alone.

The association also says that foodservice sales could drop by nearly $20 billion in the second quarter if the current economic conditions persist. The study also found that:

  • Four out of five restaurants have laid off employees since March 1
  • Seven out of 10 foodservice operators will cut back more staff hours or lay off more employees if conditions do not improve
  • Nearly one in 10 restaurants have permanently closed and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if conditions continue

The group is asking the government to provide coordinated rent relief, measures that will give operators access to working capital to reopen when the pandemic ends and expanding qualifying conditions for the federal wage subsidy.

8:21 am Police clarify that being in a car with someone else is not illegal

Toronto Police have released a statement clarifying social distancing rules. In addition to listing government-forced closures of movie theatres, playgrounds, libraries and other places, the police noted that “travelling, or being parked in a car, with five people or less – including individuals from different home addresses – is not against the law.”


Stay In The Know with Now Toronto

Be the first to know about new and exclusive content