On the morning of April 1, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto Medical Officer of Health and Chief Matthew Pegg, Fire Chief & General Manager of Emergency Management announced stricter COVID-19 case and contact measures under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. These new measures, known as a class order, put into effect a directive from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health for individuals with COVID-19, suspected of having COVID-19 or close contacts to someone with the virus to stay home for a period of 14 days.

In addition to the measures under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Medical Officer of Health strongly recommend that businesses and individuals take the necessary steps to enhance physical distancing and infection prevention control practices. The recommendations also encourage essential businesses to limit in-person access as much as possible.

City by-law officers and the Toronto Police Service will work together to enforce the already announced provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the orders issued by the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

What led to the decision?

Mayor Tory, Medical Officer of Health de Villa and Chief Pegg indicated that the stronger approach is needed to meet the three main priorities during the COVID-19 outbreak, which are:

  • To reduce the loss of life
  • Preserve and protect the capacity of the health system in order to ensure proper care for all patients; and
  • Minimize the economic impact

The Mayor and the Medical Officer of Health outlined that these decisions were not taken lightly and are based on the current trajectory and events in other jurisdictions. They said it was important to do everything possible to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the residents of Toronto.

These actions are part of the need to limit COVID-19 exposure to essential and critical workers who provide Toronto’s frontline services.

Further insights from Mayor Tory on the new measures

Mayor Tory stated that the Medical Officer of Health’s direction is clear and that the healthcare system depends on the actions announced today. He indicated that failure to do more will result in the inability to manage the COVID-19 situation, which would cost lives.

The Mayor stressed that the sacrifices made now by individuals and businesses will allow for a quicker recovery. He further stipulated that these new measures should not be taken lightly and further restrictions are possible if people do not adhere to the Medical Officer of Health’s instructions. The Mayor hinted that stricter measures are in a possible by-law that would restrict City of Toronto spaces.

What does this mean for businesses?

The Medical Officer of Health’s announcement today indicates that there could be further parameters placed on how essential businesses operate during the COVID-19 pandemic in the City of Toronto. As a result, businesses have been advised to consider taking actions that result in stringent physical distancing measures. The Medical Officer of Health indicated that this might entail conducting business under a variety of new approaches, including how people are placed and time spent in essential business environments.