City ramps up enforcement blitz at parks as Toronto reaches 1,000 cases of COVID-19
Published Saturday, April 4, 2020 4:14PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 4, 2020 10:42PM EDT
The City of Toronto bylaw officers are out in full force this weekend to enforce physical distancing measures in parks and green spaces as COVID-19 cases in the city have topped 1,000.
In a news release Saturday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) reported an additional 101 cases of COVID-19, bringing the city’s total to 1,026.
Twelve more deaths were recorded in the city, TPH said. The death toll now stands at 25.
TPH said 125 of the cases are in hospital with 53 in the intensive care unit. Meanwhile, 66 people have recovered. Community transmission is the cause in 27 per cent of the cases.
As a result, city bylaw officers are ramping up their enforcement of the measures laid out by public health officials, specifically at city parks.
The enforcement blitz comes a day after the city announced a new physical distancing bylaw to help stop the spread of the virus. It prohibits people who don’t live together from being less than two metres apart in city squares and parks.
The fine for violating the bylaw has been set at $1,000. Earlier in the week, the province prohibited non-essential gatherings of more than five people.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said if everyone makes a sacrifice and follow the rules, the faster the virus is defeated, restoring normal life in the city.
"The last thing you'd want to do as mayor or any other position is to close playgrounds a time when kids are not in school and when they need to be having someplace to expend their energy," Tory said. "But the point is that we weren't even able to be sure to say to people that this virus doesn't survive for a couple of hours on playground equipment."
Also, he said asymptomatic people could infect others without their knowledge.
Tory said he is hoping the steep fines encourage people to maintain a two-metre distance from other people. He said if you see a crowded park, run the other way.
"You know, that's what people should do, is to run the other way from these crowd scenes because that's where this virus spreads not because anybody's walking around spreading it on purpose, but because a lot of people may be carrying it right now and don't know it," he said.
He said he does not want to see police or bylaw officers write one ticket throughout this weekend.
As of 1 p.m. Saturday, more than 100 vehicles had been turned away from Humber East and West Parks parking lot, the city said.
Despite public gathering restrictions, the city said 311 continues to receive complaints about non-essential businesses remaining open and people gathering in parks and green spaces.
The city said they received 1,409 complaints related to illegal behaviour in parks thus far.
Meanwhile, the city said it had issued 34 notices for failure to comply with provincial orders.
Toronto police have issued a total of 21 tickets to people for non-compliance, two summonses to two businesses and nine notices for failure to comply.
Since March 24, TPH has attended 409 bars and restaurants that were identified as non-compliant with dine-in measures. Of those, 162 were closed, and 18 were issued warning letters.
As well, TPH visited 109 nails salons, hairdressers and other personal service places. Four were issued with warning letters, while 105 were closed.