Toronto closes facilities, cancel programs as province locks down again

Nearly half of the city’s libraries will close due to staffing shortages

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Ontario’s decision to revert COVID reopening plans prompted the city to shutter programs and services until further notice.

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And planned redeployments of city workers either sickened by COVID or forced from their jobs by mandatory vaccine mandates are underway in an effort to keep vital city services operating.

The closures come one day after the province announced renewed lockdowns and restrictions on city businesses, including a return of indoor dining bans.

When asked at a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Mayor John Tory didn’t provide a clear answer on what the city’s plans are to support impacted businesses, but suggested it wasn’t the city’s job to enact such measures.

“The city government, its primary task is to maintain critical services, essential services, get people vaccinated and so on,” he said.

“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, most of the resources exist in the kinds of mechanisms through the tax system and otherwise to help businesses rests with the other governments.”

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Tory did say the city has been “advocating to them throughout the pandemic” to help businesses weather this latest lockdown.

City services set to close Wednesday include all indoor galleries, museums and zoos, indoor meeting spaces and theatres, fitness centres, pools and indoor arenas.

Outdoor city-owned rinks and ski hills will remain open.

Cancelled programs include after school recreation and care programs, and all indoor winter recreation programs.

As of Monday, Jan. 10, staffing shortages triggered by sickness and compulsory vaccination mandates will close nearly half of Toronto Public Library branches.

Staff cleared to work will staff the 52 branches that will remain open.

The Toronto Zoo also announced they’re also closing their doors to visitors until at least Jan. 27 — despite government rules that permits the east-end attraction to operate as an outdoor-only venue.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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