The City of Toronto has cancelled events through June 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic, including the annual Pride Parade.
Toronto Mayor John Tory made the announcement during an update on the city’s response to COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto is cancelling all city-led major events, festivals, conferences, and cultural programs and is also cancelling all city permits for major events organized by external groups,” Tory said.
“This is not an easy decision to make, but it is necessary to protect the public and to save lives … While we treasure many of these events and the important contribution they make to life in our city, protecting the health and safety of Toronto residents has to be our primary concern right now.”
Tory said Pride month in June will still be celebrated, but the annual Pride Parade has been cancelled.
“Many of these events of course involve thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, and it is doubtful that the health environment will be where it needs to be on the originally-scheduled spring dates if these events are to happen in a healthy, safe, and stress-free way,” Tory said.
Pride Toronto responded to news of the City’s policy in a statement Tuesday.
“Pride Toronto will no longer host the Festival Weekend on June 26-28th 2020,” the statement read.
“Our team is working hard to deliver Pride celebrations in new, creative, and unique ways that ensure safety and physical distancing … Any future programming will be in alignment with the recommendations of the public health authorities and the communities we serve.”
Toronto Public Health said as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, there were 793 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, with 628 confirmed cases and 165 probable cases.
Sixty-five people are in hospital, with 33 in intensive care. Eight deaths have been reported in the city and 43 people are considered recovered.
Health officials attribute 25 per cent of the cases to community spread.
“We will only be able to get through this and reopen city buildings, businesses, playgrounds, restart our economy, get our festivals back and celebrate life in our city again by stopping the spread of COVID-19,” Tory said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Eileen de Villa said she was concerned with the number of people in the city who are not following physical distancing advice.
“I have been stating repeatedly the importance of physical distancing and I am truly disappointed that there continue to be people in our community who are simply not listening,” de Villa said.
“The only way we can reduce the spread of the virus is by staying home and away from other people …
“I am in active discussions with all of our partners about the potential for other increased measures and I will soon share what that means and what that looks like.”
Since March 24, officials have received 597 complaints related to the use of park amenities. Officials said education is their “first line of enforcement.”
Still, nine $750 tickets have been issued by police.