Top COVID-19 stories and news Ontario reopening:.
3:55 pm Toronto’s spike in cases due to increased lab testing: de Villa
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa reported an increase of 263 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the city’s total to 9,129. Of those cases, 6,735 are resolved, an increase of 119 since yesterday.
In total, 716 people in Toronto have died from COVID-19. There are 137 outbreaks in institutional settings.
De Villa also confirmed the spike in the city’s cases in the past two days was due to an increase in the volume of lab tests. In particular, the jump in cases were associated with increased testing in long-term care homes.
“Our community cases are still continuing to slowly decline,” she said. “Overall, this new is promising because we can isolate those who are ill faster, prevent further spread and continue to move forward.”
3:38 pm Skate parks, tennis courts and outdoor fields to reopen this weekend
Skate parks, tennis courts and outdoor fields are among the more than 850 city park amenities set to reopen this weekend. Toronto shuttered all park amenities in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the province has now partially eased restrictions to allow some things to reopen.
More than 70 off-leash dog parks reopened yesterday. On Wednesday, five BMX locations, 14 skateboard parks and four disc golf locations are opening. Parking lots for parks will also start reopening.
More than 600 tennis courts at 185 locations will begin reopening this weekend as well and lawn bowling and outdoor bocce will reopen next week. Amenities scheduled to open in time for this upcoming weekend include:
However, there are rules around the use of fields as permits for soccer, multi-use fields and baseball diamonds are still cancelled until June 29.
People can use outdoor sports facilities and fields for non-team sports, such as walking, running, biking, skateboarding, frisbee, kicking a ball, and low contact racquet sports like tennis, badminton, pickleball and ping pong.
Torontonians are not permitted to play team sports on a city field unless they are members of the same household.
Playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment, swimming pools, splash pads, greenhouses, nurseries and conservatories, High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm are closed.
3:25 pm Toronto to expand road closures this weekend
The city will expand road closures to give more room to pedestrians and cyclists this weekend.
Toronto launched the ActiveTO program last weekend to give people more room to practice physical distancing outside and residents took full advantage.
With even nicer weather forecast for this Saturday and Sunday, the city is extending the closures, which will last from 6 am on May 23 to 11 pm on May 24:
The city is also closing 57 kilometres of roads as part of the “Quiet Streets” program.
“What we experienced on Victoria Day long weekend was a quick start and common-sense response to areas where there has typically been bike and pedestrian congestion on weekends as the weather gets warmer,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “The vast majority of Toronto residents have been carefully following public health advice during the COVID-19 pandemic and ActiveTO allows people to enjoy some much-needed time outdoors.”
2:30 pm Fiesta Farms closes after staff member tests positive
Fiesta Farms has reportedly closed after a staff member tested postitive for COVID-19.
Former Breakfast Television host Teri Hart wrote on Twitter that the store was closed due to a staff member testing positive. That information was later confirmed by an employee at the store.
The store has been updating its customers frequently on safety and sanitation measures at the store, and announced over the weekend they would be making masks mandatory (and providing them for shoppers who didn’t already have one) as it reopened its garden centre to the public.
NOW has reached out to Fiesta Farms for more details.
The news follows the shutdown this month of a neighbouring Loblaws store at Christie and Dupont where a number of workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
1:15 pm Ontario recommends people wear non-medical face masks
Ontario’s chief medical officer is now recommending people wear non-medical masks or face coverings if they are “going out for necessities or taking public transit and can’t keep two metres apart,” Ontario premier Doug Ford said during his daily press conference today.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney added that the province is recommending anyone traveling on public transit wear a face covering to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The exceptions are children under age two, people who have trouble breathing and anyone who can’t remove a mask without assistance.
As the province begins stage one of reopening, public health officials have released some guidelines for public transit agencies:
Mulroney said she is working on a clear set of guidelines for transit agencies that will be coming soon.
The recommendation to wear face masks follows a similar updated recommendations by the Public Health Agency of Canada earlier today. Dr. Theresa Tam said today Canadians should wear a mask if “you can’t predict whether you can maintain that two-metre distance” when out in public.
She added updated guidelines will be posted online.
12:03 pm University of Toronto to hold large lectures online in the fall
When University of Toronto students head back to school in the fall, they’ll attend a mix of small, on-campus classes and large online and remote lectures.
In a letter published on May 20, President Meric S. Gertler said that while “much still remains uncertain” as Ontario begins reopening from COVID-19 lockdown measures, “our planning has focused on three guiding principles: promoting health and safety, advancing academic excellence, and meeting the needs of our community.”
During the fall 2020 semester, all three U of T campuses will operate uniquely and reopen on gradual basis. Over 100 staff, including deans, principals, and faculty members are collaborating and developing guidelines on how to move forward in regards to labs, residences, libraries, athletics and more. Details will be shared in the coming days.
On-campus labs and libraries will be adapted to meet physical distancing requirements, while courses are being designed to be as accommodating and flexible as possible. How limited class size will be and how students will be seated has yet to be shared. In-person classes will likely be an option for tutorials and lab work, which are typically smaller, while lectures and discussions will likely be online only, with office hours or in-person consultations available.
Read more here.
11:15 am Commercial rent loan applications open on May 25
The federal government will launch applications for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program on May 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.
The program provides commercial landlords with a forgivable loan so they can reduce rent by 75 per cent for small business tenants who have lost the majority of their business due to COVID-19. The program is administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Applicants will “receive relief quickly,” Trudeau said.
On April 24, Trudeau announced he had reached a deal with the provinces to cover 75 per cent of commercial rent for small businesses. Small business owners have criticized the program as overly complex and argue it leaves too much wiggle room for landlords to shrug off the measure.
10:50 am Ontario reports 390 new COVID-19 cases, 43 deaths
Public health officials have reported 390 new COVID-19 cases in the province, a single-day increase of 1.7 per cent. The province’s total cases is now 23,774.
The number of new cases dropped back below 400 after a spike in Tuesday’s numbers.
Another 43 people have died, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,962. There are 18,190 resolved cases – more than three quarters of total cases.
There are 991 people in hospital, with 160 in intensive care and 120 in intensive care on ventilators.
There were 7,382 tests completed since the previous day and 4,444 test results are pending. In all, 567,176 tests have been carried out in Ontario since the beginning of the outbreak.
9 am Canada has more than 79,000 cases of COVID-19
There are 79,112 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 5,912 people have died.
The outbreak is a serious public health threat though most people who contract the virus have not been hospitalized.
Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. People age 65 and over and people with compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions have a higher risk of contracting a severe case.