Coronavirus: Toronto mayor declares state of emergency in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Mayor John Tory has declared a state of emergency for the City of Toronto in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tory made the announcement Monday after speaking with Toronto health officials.

“They thought this would help to maximize the city’s ability to do everything possible as quickly as possibly to fight this virus, to win this battle,” Tory said, adding he informed Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Tory said this decision is to help people and the city. It marks the first time the city was under a state of emergency.

“The declaration … is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and will ensure the municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead,” a release said on Monday.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto mayor declares state of emergency due to COVID-19

The emergency declaration gives Tory the ability to make certain decisions that normally require full city council approval.

While Tory thanked the businesses and people who are following guidelines and social distancing practices, he said those that are not adhering to the rules are being “selfish” and this declaration will now send a “strong message” to them.

“Getting to the point where we can tell people that it is over is my sole focus. Supporting our people, delivering services, helping businesses survive and having a plan in place and drafting it up for people after this chapter are things we are working on.”

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The city saw its first COVID-19-related death on Saturday, a man in his 70s who recently travelled to the United Kingdom. Toronto Public Health released the news Sunday.

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Just after 1:30 p.m., Ford announced the closure of all non-essential services in the province to shut down by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Details of what is a non-essential service will be made available before then, Ford said.

Tory said the provincial government has his full support and he urged non-essential services in Toronto to close.

A state of emergency for Ontario was announced on March 12.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 489 active cases in the province, 239 in Toronto, plus eight resolved and six deaths.

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