‘Civil liberties’ being risked by people who don’t get on board with social distancing: de Villa
Published Tuesday, March 24, 2020 7:07PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 24, 2020 7:23PM EDT
The city’s top doctor warned Tuesday that people who aren’t practicing social distancing are putting at risk the health of their fellow citizens, and possibly also the personal liberty of their fellow citizens.
"We are at a pivotal moment, right here, right now," de Villa said, urging people to keep at least six feet apart from others at all times, even when outside.
She said those who don’t practice social distancing are putting essential workers at risk.
“They are also putting our most vulnerable residents at risk – our parents, our grandparents, people with compromised immune systems, people with chronic conditions,” de Villa said.
“They are also putting our civil liberties in jeopardy. Our freedoms around the measures that we are taking right now depend on people taking public health advice seriously. I encourage you to think about this and to think about your obligations to act collectively and to act now. “
In some of her strongest language to date on the pandemic situation, de Villa said "history will remember" that there were those who did their part to save lives during the pandemic, and those who put others at risk.
While local officials have not moved so far to bar people from leaving their homes, de Villa said the continued liberty of everyone in the city relies upon how well the population adopts the required distancing behaviours.
She urged people not to leave their homes except for essentials such as food and medicines.
She reiterated that nobody should be setting up playdates for their kids or playing team sports, such as basketball, soccer or group runs. She encouraged people to do as much as possible to stay fit within the confines of their own homes, such as online exercise videos and home workouts.
“If we keep at least six feet apart, then even if someone is infectious and does not know it, you can avoid the risk of infection,” de Villa said.
As of Tuesday, Toronto reported 280 cases of COVID-19, with 18 people requiring hospitalization. Toronto also sits under an emergency declared by the mayor Monday – the first time the city has declared an emergency.
De Villa’s warning comes as Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who heads the city’s emergency management response, announced that the city will be coordinating with Toronto Public Health and Toronto police to run compliance audits “day and night, seven days a week” to ensure that businesses that should not be operating are closed. He said that those who aren't in compliance could face stiff penalties.
Pegg also said Tuesday that the city is closely monitoring the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) available.
“All of our frontline workers who rely on PPE are being provided with PPE,” Pegg said. “At the moment our inventory is stable. Our consumption rate is relatively normal and is being tracked in live time.”
Health care workers have expressed concern about the supply of protective equipment to deal with the pandemic, and have requested donations from other organizations that stock PPE equipment, such as dentist offices and research facilities.
Pegg said the city will also coordinate donations and will be able to monitor usage and supply so that they can respond quickly if there is a spike in usage or shortage in availability.