Crowds in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday "unacceptable," officials say

May 24 2020, 9:00 am

Despite bylaws set in place by the City of Toronto surrounding mandatory physical distancing requiring people to remain at least two metres apart, Trinity Bellwoods Park saw massive crowds on Saturday not adhering to these measures.

Multiple images circulated across social media of hoards of people flocking to the park while visitors blatantly disregarded the very rules put in place to keep them safe.

“Images today of thousands of people gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park were unacceptable,” the city said in a statement. “Gatherings like this, where people aren’t keeping their distance from others, run the risk of setting Toronto back significantly in its efforts to stop the transmission of COVID-19.”

The statement continues that over 700 people from Toronto have died due to the coronavirus pandemic. Massive public gatherings, such case those seen in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday, have the potential to ruin the efforts that residents have committed to over the past 10 weeks to combat the virus, the City continued.

While people are encouraged to go outside, they must remain at least two metres apart from anyone outside of their household.

“That is the science; that is what experts like Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, tell us,” the statement explains.

However, Trinity Bellwoods was an anomaly to other parks in the city, authorities stated. According to the statement, a majority of other parks across Toronto were used responsibly.

There will be a visible bylaw enforcement officer and police presence in the park on Sunday to “ensure there are no repeats” of the crowds seen on Saturday, the statement continues.

“The City recognizes that staying home, self-isolating, and not seeing family and friends over the last several weeks has been incredibly difficult,” authorities stated. “However, gatherings like today’s at Trinity Bellwoods Park has the potential to set Toronto back in its efforts to beat COVID-19.”

Premier Doug Ford also expressed his disapproval in a press conference on Sunday.

“In the images I saw yesterday from Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, I thought it was a rock concert. I was absolutely shocked,” Ford describes. “The images I saw, we just can’t have that right now. It’s just too many people too close.”

It wasn’t just authorities that were upset by the crowds, however. Many users on social media expressed their disapproval and anger towards those involved in the crowds on Saturday.

“The Trinity Bellwoods Park fiasco wasn’t due to ignorance; the problem is entitlement,” wrote one user.

“Remember when they said a second wave of the coronavirus is coming in the winter? Yeah, I’m calling June, thanks to these people at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto today,” posted another.

Even the executive director of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), Jeff McGuire, couldn’t help but express his disbelief, tweeting, “Trinity Bellwoods Park Toronto today. I know I shouldn’t say WTF. Maybe I’ll get relieved of my position for saying WTF. But WTF?? WTF?? Seriously WTF. There I said it. WTF?”

Understandably, people are excited about limitations and specific measures gradually being lifted. It is even more natural for individuals to want to venture outside as temperatures continue to rise and the weather improves. But congregating in large groups without adhering to the strict physical distancing guidelines puts not only these people at risk but also anyone that they come in contact with.

During these times, we must think of the bigger picture and be patient and diligent with various health and safety requirements if we want to see conditions continue to improve.

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