Residents should view the work taking places behind the scenes to plan for the eventual reopening of Toronto as a “sign of hope” even if the hundreds of new cases of COVID-19 still being confirmed each day mean that they will have to wait a little longer for a return to normalcy, Mayor John Tory says.

Tory made the comment to CP24 on Sunday morning in the wake of a major meeting with city staff one day prior to kick start discussion around how to reopen the city and hasten its economic recovery from a pandemic that has shuttered most businesses.

“If you think about trying to figure out how to open a very big city that has basically been closed down it is very complex task but one thing we discussed yesterday that still holds true this morning is that it has to be done based entirely on the advice of public health officials and we are not there yet,” he said. “We still have hundreds of cases being reported, we will still have a lot of people at risk here so until that is no longer the case we can’t implement the plan. But at least we have started to make it and people should see that as a sign of hope.”

Tory has previously suggested that any reopening of the city will have to be done gradually with some measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 remaining in effect.

On Friday, he told CP24 that one question that will have to be answered concerns the reopening of restaurants. He said that officials will have to decide whether you only allow certain restaurants to open at first or all of them, but perhaps with a reduced capacity.

On Sunday, however, Tory cautioned that residents should hold off booking a table at their favourite spots for now.

“What would a politician like better than to come out and say ‘Good news all the restaurants and bars and shops can reopen and everyone can go back to work tomorrow morning.’ We would love to announce that but we also have a huge responsibility to protect lives, to protect the health of people and to protect the healthcare systems and that means that we can’t come out and give that news until such time that those daily updates become one in which we say ‘Guess what? There was no new cases yesterday.’” he said. “The activities that people have not engaged in, the staying home and staying apart from one another is why the numbers are showing some encouraging signs but there is still far too many cases happening out there for us to come and deliver that good news now.”

Ontario will remain under a state of emergency until at least May 12 following the extension of the declaration for another 28 days this past week.