Mayor apologizes for breaking COVID-19 rules at Trinity Bellwoods Park

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Trinity Bellwoods Park was much quieter Sunday afternoon, after thousands of people converged on downtown green space, ignoring social distancing guidelines and triggering a wave of criticism and warnings from alarmed officials. .

To prevent a repeat of Saturday’s trips, an increased police force and Toronto municipal by-laws have advised West End Park that alcohol should not be consumed and that COVID-19 protocols should be used. to be followed.

Even Mayor John Tory, who visited the park on Saturday, was among those who failed, as he acknowledged in a statement released on Sunday.

“I want to apologize for my personal behavior,” said Tory via Twitter. “I visited Trinity Bellwoods Park to try to determine why things were the way they were. I had every intention of moving away physically but it was very difficult to do. I wore a mask in the park but I didn’t use it properly, something else I’m disappointed with.

“These are mistakes I made and as a leader in this city, I know I have to set a better example for the future.”

Don Peat, the mayor’s spokesperson, said Tory had made “significant efforts” to maintain physical distance, moving when people were too close or asking them to step back.

Premier Doug Ford said he was “absolutely shocked” to see photos of the crowd who showed up at Trinity Bellwoods, saying he thought it was “A rock concert”.

“We just can’t have that right now. It’s just too crowded, too close, “he said at Queen’s Park on Sunday. “There is always a deadly virus among us and if we allow it, it will spread – it will spread like wildfire.”

City workers were dispatched to the park on Sunday to pick up the remaining trash. Toronto police chief Mark Saunders came to the area to speak to neighbors, some of whom were irritated that their property was being used as a toilet by park visitors.

Saunders defended the deployment of his officers on Saturday and their management of what was not an “expected event”. It was impractical for the police to issue tickets for everyone who violated social distancing – or who drank in a public place while the park toilets remained closed due to the pandemic.

While the majority of the city’s nearly three million residents have complied with the restrictions since the lockdown began in mid-March, Saunders said he also understands that the threat of COVID-19 is invisible to many. “If they were scorpions, there would be no one around the park here,” he said.

City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross also reported to Trinity Bellwoods, which borders Queen Street West to the south and Dundas Street to the north. He told reporters that the massive turnout on Saturday was “the exception” and that the vast majority of people visiting Toronto’s 1,500 parks did so safely.

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Two or more people who are not members of the same household and who cannot keep at least two meters apart from each other in a park or public place can be fined $ 1,000.

Officials want to continue focusing on education, but law enforcement will take place if necessary, warned Ross: “We don’t want rehearsals for (Saturday), so in the future we will make sure that there is an appropriate presence of police and enforcement officers. , not just in this park and in other parks. “

Officers issued 14 tickets to the parks on Saturday – four of them at Trinity Bellwoods, according to a city press release.

Betsy Powell

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