COVID-19 in Toronto: City prepares to open farmers' markets, city-run child-care centres
Meanwhile, city launched a new COVID-19 dashboard to track progress
Mayor John Tory says the city is preparing a phased approach to reopening the child-care centres it runs, as Toronto continues to see a gradual decline in new COVID-19 cases.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Tory said the city will close its emergency daycare centres by June 26 and reopen 11 city-run centres by June 29.
Of the remaining child-care centres:
- 10 will open in July.
- 19 will open in September.
- Seven are "on hold pending further analysis."
Tory said city staff will work with families using the emergency centres to provide them with an alternative.
Staff will also prioritize child-care spaces in the event that the demand exceeds available spaces, taking into account factors such as parents who must return to work in-person and those accessing emergency child care.
"[Child-care centres] will be absolutely critical to ensuring the success of our economy over the next few years," Tory said Friday.
Although Ontario child-care centres were given the green light to reopen as of Friday, Toronto Public Health said in a statement that it would not yet reopen the city's centres, and instead was working "to ensure that appropriate guidance is available for child-care centres as soon as possible."
Based on the provincial guidelines, the city said Friday that all licensed home child-care providers will be required to adhere to new operational requirements, which include limiting cohort sizes, having a COVID-19 response plan in case of an outbreak, screening staff and children prior to entering, and enhanced cleaning.
Visitors will also not be permitted to enter the centres, and drop-off and pick-up protocols will be required at the facilities as a way of ensuring physical distancing.
Upon reopening, fees will remain at the same rate as they were prior the closure, the city said.
Funding will be provided to assist with reduced capacity and to support increased personal protective equipment and cleaning costs, Tory said. Funding will also go toward helping the facilities pay for the additional staff needed during the reopening process.
City launches new dashboard to track containment progress
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, announced Friday that Toronto Public Health has launched a new COVID-19 dashboard, looking at virus spread and containment, lab testing trends, health system capacity, and public health system capacity.
To track these four categories, the city will assign a red, yellow, or green colour to reflect the current status.
Toronto's virus spread and containment, as well as laboratory testing, currently sit in the yellow zone, which is the middle of the range.
We are pleased to launch our new <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> monitoring dashboard that summarizes our progress in the fight against <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> as we move towards safely reopening. See the dashboard on our website: <a href="https://t.co/0GGLAFtWDq">https://t.co/0GGLAFtWDq</a> <a href="https://t.co/SzthVkRHrn">pic.twitter.com/SzthVkRHrn</a>—@TOPublicHealth
De Villa said these positive indicators support the city's current approach to safely and gradual reopening.
But if the city enters red territory, that could mean officials need to rethink the reopening plan, de Villa said.
Toronto's health system capacity, meanwhile, currently sits in the green zone.
The dashboard will also track of a seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 and hospitalizations in the city.
"We can't stay locked in our homes forever," said Coun. Joe Cressy, the board of health chair, at the news conference on Friday.
"Until there is a vaccine or a treatment, this is the new normal of living with COVID-19," he added.
"Reopening and living with COVID-19, there will be more cases ... there will be more deaths."
But he said the new dashboard acts like a "recovery scorecard" to monitor the city's reopening framework and inform measures to keep Torontonians safe and healthy.
A much more detailed picture of what’s really going on with the spread of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> in Toronto thanks to this new data dashboard from <a href="https://twitter.com/TOPublicHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TOPublicHealth</a> <a href="https://t.co/AC98OOIv0L">https://t.co/AC98OOIv0L</a> <a href="https://t.co/tPhWzkoteG">pic.twitter.com/tPhWzkoteG</a>—@CBCQueensPark
City prepares to reopen farmers' markets
Meanwhile, the city is preparing to reopen farmers' markets — a decision it says was made in consultation with public health officials.
According to a release issued Friday, the city is working with market organizers to safely reopen the markers at the 22 city sites where they would regularly be located.
"Farmers' markets are valued members of the food supply chain and provide Torontonians with access to fresh fruits and vegetables, encourage residents to get outside and be physically active, and support the local agriculture sector," the release states.
Meanwhile, the outdoor market at St. Lawrence Market is set to open Saturday, and will remain open until the end of the "growing season" on Nov. 14.
The city says market organizers have worked with the city's CurbTO program to relocate the outdoor area onto Market Street between The Esplanade and Wilton Street to allow for physical distancing.
Lineup areas for the indoor and outdoor farmers' market will start on Market Street and both areas will operate every Saturday from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Customers are "strongly encouraged" to wear masks while shopping.
City reports 86 new cases
Toronto reported 86 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, a notable drop when compared to already-declining numbers of new cases reported this week.
That number brings the city's cumulative total to 13,149, 10,717 of which are considered resolved.
Here's a look at other key data points from the city:
- Some 310 people remain in hospital with COVID-19.
- Of those, 73 are in intensive care.
- There have been 973 confirmed COVID-19-linked deaths.
The city says some 13 per cent of those who have been infected with the novel coronavirus have needed to be hospitalized.
More than 10 km of roads to be closed this weekend
Meanwhile, more than 10 kilometres of major roads will be closed this weekend as part of ActiveTO — a recently-implemented city initiative that blocks off roads to all but local traffic, bikers, runners and walkers.
The following closures are set to start Saturday at 6 a.m. and end Sunday at 11 p.m.:
- Eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard West from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. The eastbound Gardiner Expressway off-ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit number 146) will also be closed.
- Eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard East from Leslie Street to just south of Woodbine Avenue at Kew Beach Avenue.
- Bayview Avenue from Front Street East to Rosedale Valley Road.
- River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue.
Additional city parks and amenities open to Torontonians eager to get some time outdoors this weekend include:
- Picnic shelters.
- Soccer and multi-use outdoor fields, including running tracks in parks.
- Baseball diamonds and basketball courts.
- Some public tennis courts and pickleball courts.
- Lawn bowling and outdoor bocce.
- Off-leash dog parks.
- BMX locations and skateboard parks.
- City-run golf courses and disc golf locations.
- Ravine green spaces, beaches, trails and boardwalks for walking, running or biking.
- Fishing with a licence, boating, kayaking and canoeing.
Although the city launched its SwimTO plan earlier this week, aimed at ensuring residents can still enjoy the summer during the pandemic, beaches, outdoor pools, wading pools and splash pads remain closed until that plan is implemented.
Greenhouses, nurseries and conservatories, High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm also remain closed.