City of Toronto officials furious at massive crowds in Trinity Bellwoods Park


Toronto reported 228 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday - more than half of the 412 new cases reported by Ontario public health officials.

Not everyone is following the guidelines.

According to the city, thousands of people packed Trinity Bellwoods Park on one of the first warm days of the year, and numerous photos and video posted to social media showed the park-goers seemingly disregarding physical distancing requirements.

The city government also issued a statement decrying the absence of social distancing evident in images of the gathering, calling it "unacceptable" and warning it risked setting back the city's efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders came to the area to talk to neighbours, some of them irate that their properties were used as toilets by park visitors.

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. Cyclists and pedestrians got fresh air and exercise as part ActiveTO, where major roads, such as Lake Shore Boulevard and Bayview Avenue, were closed to motorists to allow people to safely get outside.

Premier Doug Ford said he will not punish the entire province over the decisions of some people to flout COVID-19 restrictions on the weekend, though these actions, along with more daily cases, has resulted in public health officials questioning plans to increase the size of social gatherings. "The physical distancing bylaw and provincial emergency order around gatherings will be strictly enforced".

Mayor John Tory, who referred to the behaviour as "incredibly disappointing", said he visited the park on Saturday night to get a glimpse of the situation.

Ford said Monday that he was "disappointed" to see an estimated crowd of 10,000 people flock to the popular greenspace, and he encouraged them to head to an assessment centre to be tested.

"I thought it was a rock concert at the beginning when I went out there".

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"If you have symptoms, you're anxious, you've been in large groups and anxious about having COVID or been in contact with someone who may have had COVID, go get tested", Ford said.

"It's a attractive day out, everyone wants to get out and have a great time".

"We just can't have that right now".

"I know people are anxious to have more things open, but we have to make sure we do this responsibly".

Thumbnail courtesy of Global News.

Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa called the photos of people in the park disappointing in a tweet on Saturday.

"Across the city today, people went to parks (which have been open throughout the #COVID19 pandemic) and kept their distance from others". "They are putting their own health at risk and by risking the spread of the virus to others, they could contribute to the kind of setback we are trying hard to avoid", said Tory.

"We need to continue to maintain that physical distancing for now so we can get back to those regular aspects of life". We're by no means out of the woods yet.