It’s been nine days since Ontario declared a province-wide state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic, effectively changing our lives as we knew them for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.
Government orders and recommendations meant to help slow the spread of the deadly virus have only been getting more restrictive as the days wear on. Cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus continue to rise rapidly in the city, province and country either way.
Non-essential businesses have been ordered closed. Schools are likely over for the academic year. Park facilities in Toronto are now forbidden to use, and public health officials are urging us all to stay at home whenever at all possible.
Nobody can be faulted for going a little stir-crazy at this point, or even for trying to rat out businesses and groups they see violating important government orders.
What they can be criticized for is calling 911 to do so.
Toronto Fire Chief and head of the city’s emergency operations centre Matthew Pegg implored Toronto residents to please leave 911 only for emergencies during a press conference with Mayor John Tory and the city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
“If the public has a concern that non-compliance is occurring with respect to these closures we ask you to call 311,” he said of the order to close down all non-essential businesses amid the pandemic.
“Do not call 911 unless there is an emergency that requires a response by police, fire or paramedics.”
Pegg said that, as of 11 a.m. on Thursday, Municipal Licensing and Standards officers had responded to 70 complaints and issued seven notices for “failure to comply with the provincial order to close non-essential businesses.”
Another 73 restaurants and bars were identified as non-compliant last week for failing to adequately shut down their dine-in areas.
The city has furthermore received some 30 complaints related to social distancing in parks, says Pegg.
“We need everyone’s cooperation if we are to beat COVID-19 and keep our city healthy,” he stressed.
“Enforcement of this and the other provincial orders around the closure of non-essential businesses is prioritized by our emergency operations centre.”