Despite social distancing bylaws in place requiring people in different households to stay two metres apart, Trinity Bellwoods Park was crawling with people on Saturday.
Toronto reopened 850 park amenities Saturday, including picnic shelters, soccer and multi-use outdoor fields, baseball diamonds and basketball courts after more than two months of closure to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Along with the beautiful weather, thousands of people took it as an opportunity to visit the popular park in the heart of the city.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa called the photos of people in the park disappointing in a tweet on Saturday.
“I understand that the photos of people in Trinity Bellwoods were disappointing today. It was a beautiful day & we all want to enjoy our city together, but this could be selfish & dangerous behaviour that could set us back,” read the Dr. de Villa’s tweet.
I understand that the photos of people in Trinity Bellwoods were disappointing today. It was a beautiful day & we all want to enjoy our city together, but this could be selfish & dangerous behaviour that could set us back. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/cKVj0DdBhh
— Dr. Eileen de Villa (@epdevilla) May 23, 2020
The city released a statement late Saturday night, calling the crowds “unacceptable” and said bylaw officers and police would have a visible presence at Trinity Bellwoods starting tomorrow morning to ensure there were no repeats of the crowds seen today.
They added the physical distancing bylaw will be strictly enforced as well.
“Public gatherings, like today’s in Trinity Bellwoods Park, threaten to undo the challenging work residents of this city have done over the last 10 weeks in their collective effort to bear COVID-19,” read the statement.
The statement also added the vast majority of parks across the city were used responsibly.
Toronto police say they were aware of the gatherings at Trinity Bellwoods and are monitoring the situation along with bylaw officers. They did not have any information regarding fines or charges yet, adding a better breakdown would be available on Sunday.
The city saw a slight decrease in the number of new cases on Saturday.
Health officials reported 220 new COVID-19 cases, a 2.2 per cent increase over the previous day, for a total of 9,835 cases in the city.
It was only the second time in the last six days that the number of new cases dropped from the previous day.
As the weather began to get nicer this week, enforcement officers responded to over 160 complaints in Toronto parks, a noticeable increase of the last few weeks.
Trinity Bellwoods was one of the problematic parks mentioned where the COVID-19 enforcement team observed crowding as well as public intoxication and unruly behaviour.
Only four tickets were issued as the enforcement team continued to focus on educating people on the pandemic and the risks.
The fine for any two or people who are not members of the same household, and who do not keep at least two metres distance between them, can receive a ticket of up to $1,000.