A heat wave engulfing large swaths of Ontario and Quebec is forcing cities such as Toronto to rethink how they offer relief in light of restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Libraries, community centres and pools — spaces where residents can traditionally go to cool down — remain closed due to COVID-19-related health measures as temperatures are expected to soar above 30C for several days.
In Toronto, where hundreds of such spaces were identified as a heat relief network last year, officials say they will open six emergency cooling centres across the city.
They say the centres are meant as a “last resort” for residents who don’t have access to a cool space, adding strict infection prevention and control protocols will be in place.
The city says more spaces will be designated as emergency cooling centres soon as it announces its full, adjusted heat relief strategy.
Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for much of southern and eastern Ontario, as well as special weather statements related to heat for parts of the province and most of Quebec.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 26, 2020.
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