You Can Now Be Fined for Using Public Spaces Shut Down Due to COVID-19

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After a weekend that saw countless Torontonians outside enjoying the warmer weather despite being urged to remain indoors, Mayor John Tory announced Monday that those found gathering at City-owned public spaces will be fined.

Mayor Tory said the City will now issue fines of $750 to $5,000 to those using public spaces that have been shut down due to COVID-19.

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Last week, Tory announced that all City-owned playgrounds and park amenities were closed to the public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in Toronto.

The closure included playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor exercise equipment and other park amenities, as well as parking lots attached to its parks system.

On Thursday, City staff began erecting signage across Toronto’s park’s amenities to advise the public of closures, while fencing and gates were locked, and unfenced playground structures were signed and taped off.

While the vast majority of Torontonians have been respecting the rules, the mayor said City officials received numerous reports over the weekend of people violating the rules and ripping down the tape City officials had put across park amenities so that they could still access them.

The mayor called this behaviour “irresponsible” and “insensitive” and said it further risks the spreading of the virus throughout the city.

Tory said “the time is up for those who don’t follow the rules” and those found in violation can face fines of a minimum of $750 and a maximum of $5000.

“We know that this is a marathon and not a sprint,” said Tory. He added that everyone wants restrictions to come to an end, but the only way to make that happen is for everyone to work together.

This move comes as Dr. Eileen de Villa announced there are now 591 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, up 50 from Sunday, with approximately 25% of cases in Toronto now attributed to community spread.

“Our city still has a chance to limit the impact of this disease,” said de Villa during Monday’s announcement, urging residents to stay home and to ramp up their efforts to practice social distancing.

Toronto Fire Chief, Matthew Pegg, who is also the general manager of emergency management for the city, said Monday, “charges have been laid and will continue to be laid” for people who enter closed spaces.

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