Ontario might be reopening gradually, but you can still put those festival dreams to bed. It was announced on Friday afternoon, May 15, that all city-run or -permitted Toronto festivals are cancelled until July 31. Events had previously been cancelled through June 30.

The City made the announcement in a release sent out on Friday afternoon.

It confirmed that all City-led and City-permitted major festivals and events with an expected attendance of more than 250 people have been scrapped through until July 31.

For massive festivals and events with an attendance of 25,000 or more, that extends another month until August 31.

It should be noted that the resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision, presumably as the city awaits direction from respective leagues.

The cancellation of events until June 30 had already included Toronto's famous Pride festival.

And Canada Day festivities had also already been scrapped, as Mayor John Tory says the 6ix will largely celebrate the day virtually this year.

These latest abandoned plans include festivals, conferences, and cultural programs held in City facilities or public locations such as roads, parks, and public squares. Issued permits and pending permits have also been scrapped. 

The announcement comes just hours after Ontario's Minister of Health Christine Elliott suggested permitted gatherings could be extended to groups of 10 from next week.

The release notes these latest cancellations will affect popular annual events like the Honda Indy, Beaches International Jazz Festival, BIG on Bloor, JerkFest, Taste of the Danforth, and the Toronto Chinatown Festival, among others.

It remains to be seen whether any of these events will follow Pride's lead in going virtual for 2020 to ensure they can still be enjoyed by the public.

The Toronto release also confirms a Cultural Festivals Recovery Program aimed at providing financial and other support to businesses and organizers involved in the cancelled events.

"It is with deep regret that we are forced to extend the cancellation of large festivals to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," said Tory.

On Thursday, the mayor had announced that Toronto will begin closing major roads that run near popular outdoor spaces and attractions in a bid to deter visitors.

These updates also come as Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced more businesses including golf courses and marinas can reopen starting this weekend, and some seasonal activities can resume from next week.

So, while Ontario may be reopening gradually right now, summer 2020 is still going to hit pretty differently.

The streets will certainly be quieter.

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