Toronto

Physical distancing circles painted on grass at Trinity Bellwoods Park

City staff are painting circles on the grass at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Thursday to encourage visitors to the popular west end park to engage in physical distancing.

City response comes after crowding in popular park last weekend

These circles have been painted on the grass at Trinity Bellwoods Park in an effort to promote physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kate Cornick/CBC)

City staff painted circles on the grass at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Thursday to encourage visitors to the popular west end park to engage in physical distancing.

Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday that staff would be painting the circles to "help to illustrate proper physical distancing and help with the measurements, but also help to ensure compliance in a place where we simply have to do better."

"Social distancing circles," as they are known, have been painted in white on grass at parks in U.S. cities, namely Dolores Park in San Francisco and in Brooklyn's Domino Park in New York City.

On Monday, Tory announced that the city was exploring the idea of the circles painted on grass in parks to encourage physical distancing.

The painting at Trinity Bellwoods follows a weekend in which thousands crowded into the large green space on Saturday and paid little heed to public health directives to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Under a city physical distancing bylaw, people not living in the same household are required to keep two metres apart or face being ticketed when they are in public parks and squares.

And under a provincial emergency order, gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.

A group of young people sits on the grass in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday, May 23. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

The mayor said on Monday that city staff are reviewing "what went on" at the park to ensure it doesn't happen again while the city continues to grapple with a major COVID-19 outbreak. 

The park, located several blocks west of Bathurst Street, is sandwiched between Dundas Street West to the north and Queen Street West to the south.

Enforcement team promised this weekend

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, general manager of the city's emergency management office, said the city bylaw and provincial order will be enforced this weekend at Trinity Bellwoods Park, waterfront parks and other high traffic parks.

The city's enforcement team will be on hand to educate park goers, he said.

"This weekend, our enforcement team will be present at Trinity Bellwoods Park to greet park users to remind them about the importance of physical distancing and to take enforcement action as required," Pegg told reporters.

On Wednesday, the city reported that Toronto has a cumulative total of 10,525 cases, an increase of 152 cases since Tuesday. A total of 7,814 people have recovered, an increase of 187 since Tuesday.

 A total of 780 people have died of COVID-19 in the city. There are 356 people in hospital with 84 in intensive care units.

Dr Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, urged people who crowded into the park on Saturday to monitor themselves for symptoms of the disease for 14 days.

Thousands of people crowded into Trinity Bellwoods Park and the scene attracted much attention and much criticism as Toronto continues to grapple with an outbreak of COVID-19. (Laura Howells/CBC)

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