Toronto’s High Park will be closed to the public starting Thursday, April 30, during the cherry blossom bloom period amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the city, during the park closure, residents will be able to enjoy the cherry blossom bloom virtually.
The City said it will provide a continuous livestream — through its partners the Toronto Public Library Bookmobile and Rogers — of the cherry tree grove in High Park, plus multiple live events and videos featuring virtual walk-throughs of the blossoming Sakura (cherry blossom) trees.
Every year, thousands of people visit High Park to view the cherry blossom trees in bloom, which usually lasts between four to 10 days, depending on the weather.
The peak bloom period traditionally occurs from late April to early May.
“We made the difficult decision to close the entire park because it is the only way we can keep people from gathering to see the blossoms and risking further spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.
“This is about protecting public health and saving lives. I know this will be particularly frustrating for High Park residents who use the park daily for exercise. Thank you for your ongoing understanding that we are following public health advice and we appreciate your sacrifice over the next few days.”
The city also reminds the public that violations related to accessing a closed City park can result in a set fine of $750 if a ticket is paid voluntarily, but the maximum fine can be $5,000.
The cherry blossoms area at Trinity Bellwoods Park is now also enclosed by fencing, with enforcement patrols occurring during bloom period.
If required, the city said enforcement officials and Toronto Police Services may patrol other smaller sites of cherry blossoms in Toronto.
To discourage gatherings, the City of Toronto closed amenities at all parks and playgrounds last month as part of the continuing efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.
This includes 1,500 parks in the city as well as, playgrounds, fitness equipment, sports courts, leash-free zones, picnic shelters, sports fields, skateboard parks, and other facilities.
All City-led major mass participation events planned for Toronto have officially been cancelled, through to June 30, in the midst of the pandemic. The mass cancellation was made in response to the recent provincial emergency order to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people.