Toronto Mayor John Tory announces COVID-19 testing program for workers returning to work

Toronto sets January date for city workers to return to the office, amid rising COVID-19 cases, Omicron uncertainty

Gerry Simpson, The Canadian Press Published Wednesday, March 14, 2020 5:00PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, March 14, 2020 8:59PM EDT

TORONTO — Thousands of city workers returning to their offices for the first time in months will be tested for COVID-19 as a precaution, the mayor announced Wednesday.

“I want Toronto to make sure we have the best response possible to the virus,” Mayor John Tory said. “But if we don’t have the best response, it could be a death sentence for our city.”

Tory said the testing program will begin Thursday and will involve those whose roles include cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting offices and those who handle food or take care of other essential services.

Tory also announced a series of measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19, including ordering transit workers to go back to work despite a shortage of face masks and other materials and ordering people to keep their distance from each other.

As of March 9, there had been 5,038 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto and 38 deaths, according to the province.

Tory reiterated his call on people not to go to bars and clubs to relax as there is a risk they could spread the disease.

“If you can’t keep your distance, then don’t go in the first place,” he told reporters at a news conference.

On Wednesday, Public Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that the province may be forced to take additional measures.

“In the interest of public health, we must take all necessary steps to protect our communities and the safety of our people,” she said. “We are prepared to take additional measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Tory said the province was working on a plan to re-open certain businesses that will see people “moved out of their offices,” and will “allow people to get to work.” There will also be a “flexible” schedule for businesses to begin operating with the exception of some essential services like grocery stores

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