Mayor John Tory vows to ‘drop the hammer’ as COVID-19 infections rise in Toronto

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City officials are promising stricter enforcement of regulations and regulations aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, amid a worrying and persistent increase in the number of cases.

“It’s time to get a lot harder, to drop the hammer so to speak, when it comes to law enforcement,” Mayor John Tory said at a COVID-19 press conference at the town hall.

Tory said the city has so far focused on education and warnings, but now is the time to inflict consequences on the scofflaws.

“I think most people agree that we’ve come to this point,” Tory added. “There is a lot at stake. It’s time to comply.

Ontario reported an additional 425 new cases on Monday, including 175 in Toronto, well above the city’s summer averages of 15 per day.

Toronto’s medical officer of health Dr Eileen de Villa said there were 453 new infections over the weekend in Toronto.

“We knew the infections would increase with the reopening, but why is it happening so much? At some level, too many people refuse to accept that everything has changed and that we have to change too, ”de Villa said at the press conference.

“We haven’t passed a point of no return. We can still turn the tide, ”she said, adding that people should practice physical distancing, wear masks when in the company of people outside their social circle and wash their hands often.

“I’m concerned that at some level too many of us are willing to make the changes we need to keep everyone safe and limit the spread of COVID-19,” de Villa said.

“Of all the things that worry me at 3 am, this is what worries me the most.”

While promising more enforcement, the city is not assigning more bylaws, police or public health officials to this task. No new hires have been made, according to Matthew Pegg, Toronto Fire Chief and responsible for Toronto’s COVID-19 preparedness and response.

“I have convened enhanced enforcement coordination meetings with our respective enforcement officers to ensure we are fully connected and coordinated on all aspects of COVID-19 law enforcement,” said Pegg. “Our strategy is simple. We will enforce provincial regulations in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. “

The new provincial regulations provide for fines of $ 10,000 for the owner or organizer of an event that exceeds the maximum number of people set by the province and $ 750 for those in attendance.

Premier Doug Ford announced last week that to stem the growing spread of COVID, the number of people allowed for social gatherings across Ontario will be set at 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, during the 28 next days.

Pegg said the proposed changes would empower police to order a temporary closure of a location if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an organized public event or other gathering is taking place and the number of people exceeds limits provincial.

Pegg said the command center received 21 complaints related to rallies over the weekend, but application thresholds were not met. In a number of cases, the gathering could have dispersed before the arrival of law enforcement officials, he said.

Earlier today, de Villa told the Toronto Board of Health meeting that only 25% of new COVID-19 test results were returned within 24 hours – the target is 60% within 24 hours.

Testing is a provincial responsibility, but TPH relies on these lab results to perform quick and efficient contact tracing to warn those who have come into contact with someone infected with the virus to watch for symptoms or to them. isolate as needed.

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“We need the results and we need them in a timely manner,” said de Villa.

The board of health on Monday voted on a number of measures to help fight the virus, including putting in place a system to share details of outbreaks in the workplace publicly, without compromising people’s privacy. .

The council also voted to ask the province to fund onsite expertise dedicated to infections and infection control in each long-term care facility; urge the federal government to take action to better track international travelers and support better compliance with the Quarantine Act, which requires them to quarantine for 14 days; and call on the federal and provincial governments to implement a pilot project in schools that uses saliva to test for COVID-19 and scale up the program as needed.

With files from David Rider

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter who covers city hall and municipal politics for The Star. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF



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