Toronto Public Health to help businesses get ready as city waits for next stage of reopening
Data suggests recent COVID-19 cases occurring in 'younger demographic'
Toronto Public Health plans to work with local businesses and community services to ensure they can reopen as safely as possible when the city is allowed to move into the next stage of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, said on Monday that for businesses and services to open safely, they will have to ensure that staff and patrons maintain physical distancing, as well as follow strict infection prevention and control measures, including the wearing of face masks.
"In order to move forward to support our city to safely reopen, we will use this time to help our local businesses, such as restaurants and hair salons, and other community services and amenities, including our libraries and pools, to best prepare to reopen when it is safe to do so," de Villa told reporters at a city hall news conference.
"We are continuing to observe and use the best available evidence to develop public health guidance to share with these businesses and settings."
De Villa said Toronto Public Health is also aiming to identify people who are at the highest risk of acquiring COVID-19 to enable it to take preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Earlier on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced details of Stage 2 of Ontario's plan to lift emergency orders.
Twenty-four of Ontario's 34 public health units will be allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday. The remaining 10, concentrated primarily in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and near the U.S.-Canada border, will need to wait until new daily case numbers consistently decrease.
People in their 20s make up over 13% of cases
Toronto has 169 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the cumulative total in the city to 12,707. De Villa said 57 of the new cases are related to a delay in reporting to Toronto Public Health of previously identified infections.
De Villa said 9,746 people have recovered, an increase of 123 from Sunday.
A total of 944 people have died of COVID-19. According to the city, 341 people are in hospital with 78 in intensive care units and 63 on ventilators.
According to the city's COVID-19: Status of Cases in Toronto web page, people aged 20 to 29 now make up 13.6 per cent of all cases in the city and account for 1,731 cases in all.
Asked why more people from this age group seem to be getting the virus, De Villa said the data suggests recent cases are occurring in a "younger demographic" than was seen earlier in the pandemic.
"Does that give rise to concern? I think any amount of activity of COVID-19 gives rise to concern," she said. "Certainly, we know that physical distancing makes a difference."
Next stage will likely mean more cases
Once Toronto is allowed to move into the next stage, De Villa said there is a good chance that the city will see an increase in cases.
"It is also important to note that as businesses and activities reopen in our province, and people move around and interact with each other more, we will likely see more COVID-19 activity, even if we all diligently follow our public health guidance,"
"This has been the experience in jurisdictions all around the world."
WATCH: Dr. Eileen de Villa on reopening in Toronto in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
She noted that Toronto residents can expect to continue to work remotely wherever possible, maintain physical distance from people not from their households, avoiding crowds in closed indoor setting, wearing a face mask when physical distancing is hard to maintain and staying home when sick.
"Until we have a treatment or a vaccine, we should expect this will be the case and physical distancing will continue to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future," De Villa said.
Toronto to announce details on CampTO and SwimTO
Mayor John Tory, who also spoke at the news conference, said the city has been planning for the resumption of services since April and its emergency operations centre has created a "restart roadmap" to guide the restarting of city operations.
"City staff have been working non-stop to get ready to support this reopening," Tory said.
"We appreciate the province's sensitivity to regional concerns. This will mean some businesses could reopen here as early as June 19th, just a week after businesses in other parts of the province," he added.
"This is a responsible decision from provincial officials and recognizes that we must continue this reopening in a safe manner based on public health advice. I want businesses to open as soon as it is safe for them to do so. And we are doing everything we can to make sure the city government supports the reopening."
Later this week, Tory said, the city will outline details of CampTO, its plan for day camps this summer, and details of SwimTO, its plan for the opening of splash pads, wading pools, outdoor swimming pools and lifeguards at beaches. The pandemic has led to modifications in timing of opening facilities, he said.
"The plans are complete, the preparatory work has been done to make sure, most of all, that the kids and families stay safe and the details will follow shortly," Tory said.
City to open 14 emergency cooling centres on hot days
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, general manager of the city's office of emergency management, said the city will open 14 emergency cooling centres when Environment Canada issues a heat warning for Toronto this summer.
Pegg said Environment Canada has issued heat warnings for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
Several facilities that were part of the city's network of cooling spaces last year are closed due to the pandemic. Pegg said the city had to modify its plan for heat relief this year as a result.
The centres will provide air-conditioned places for residents to rest indoors and receive a cool drink. Staff who are trained to help residents affected by the extreme heat will be on hand.
Infection prevention and control measures will be in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The centres will operate during heat warnings only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except the one at Metro Hall, which will run 24 hours during heat warnings.
Toronto residents who want to use the emergency cooling centres are urged, when they are heading to one, to wear a face mask, avoid using public transit, taxis and ride-sharing services, practise hand hygiene and physical distancing.