The City of Toronto has confirmed the annual viewing of the High Park cherry blossoms will be moving online this year to further stop the spread of COVID-19.
Every year, tens of thousands of people flock to High Park to view the blossoming Sakura (cherry blossom) trees; however, based on recommendations from the Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, the popular park will be closed during the pre-bloom and peak bloom period of the cherry blossom trees, as maintaining proper physical distancing would not be possible.
As a result, the City is now working to make viewing the blossoms only available online, which would include multiple live stream events and videos, which will provide a “virtual walk-through” of the blossoming trees.
High Park is currently already closed to vehicle traffic, as the roads were closed off when the City moved to close park amenities based on public health’s advice. The City says the closure of the park will be weather-dependent and it will be announced when the bloom period is determined.
“I know this closure will be tough for local residents who enjoy High Park year-round and those who look forward to seeing the cherry blossoms every year,” said Mayor John Tory.
“This virtual event and the proactive closure is meant to ensure the traditional overcrowding that happens at High Park during the annual cherry blossom bloom does not occur this year to further stop the spread of COVID-19. We are following the advice of our professional public health officials to protect the health and safety of all residents and park visitors.”
To ensure the public complies with the closure, park enforcement City bylaw officers and the Toronto Police Service will monitor the park and those caught accessing the closed City park will receive a set fine of $750 or a maximum fine of $5,000.
Furthermore, the City says the cherry blossoms area at Trinity Bellwoods Park will be enclosed by fencing with enforcement patrols during the bloom period. City enforcement officials and Toronto Police Services may patrol other smaller sites of cherry blossoms in Toronto.
This closure follows similar cherry blossom crowd control responses that have already occurred in Japan, Korea, Europe, and Washington, D.C.