Toronto considering social distancing circles in city parks: Tory

May 25 2020, 1:58 pm

Mayor John Tory said that social distancing circles are under consideration in order to ensure people stay two metres apart when congregating in parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure is being considered after “thousands” gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday, which appeared to show large crowds of residents not properly distancing.

“Social distancing circles are strongly being considered,” Tory said during a press conference on Monday.

A review is being conducted on what occurred at Trinity Bellwoods Park and all response measures are being analyzed by park and enforcement professionals, Tory confirmed.

He added that the recommendations regarding the circles, if provided quickly, will be implemented as soon as possible with an “obvious objective” being before the weekend when people have the time to roam public spaces.

The mayor also said that increased policing and enforcement is being considered and hopes that with the additional space being made available through ActiveTO will allow residents to distance.

He noted that the city will keep a “close eye on the park” and that Saturday’s typically see larger crowds, which will have constant “vigilance” in respect to Trinity Bellwoods and all parks.

“We will have a report soon from our city officials on how we can make distancing rules better,” Tory said.

The physical distancing circles measure has been implemented in San Francisco and Brooklyn.

Tory also addressed his own conduct at Trinity Bellwoods on Saturday, in which he was seen not distancing from others two metres apart and had his face mask not fully on his face when speaking with others.

Based on the advice from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, who said all residents at the park on the weekend should self-monitor for symptoms, Tory said he will do the same.

“I will self-monitor and I accept the advice of our doctor and do what she says is prudent. I will accept the advice given as I’ve done throughout,” the mayor said.

De Villa said that park-goers could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are not yet showing the symptoms.

“Because of this it is important you monitor yourself for the next 14 days,” de Villa said.

“If you should develop any symptoms please go and get tested immediately.”

She added that the park-goers be extra diligent with hand hygiene and to keep a physical distance of six feet from others, or to wear a non-medical mask if distancing is not possible.

De Villa also said that the residents should also avoid contact with people who are most vulnerable like the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.

More coronavirus cases were also confirmed on Monday.

There are 177 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 10,212, though 7,509 have recovered, with 761 reported deaths.

Toronto Public Health has discovered it typically takes five days from the time someone presents with symptoms to when they actually get tested.

“This is very concerning,” de Villa said.

She emphasized that if someone presents one or more symptoms to get tested immediately.

Symptoms include: fever, cough, difficulty breathing, unexplained fatigue, headache, sore throat, runny nose (not typical to allergies), loss of taste/smell, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

“This is the only way to get to a time when we can all safely connect,” de Villa said.

“To move forward, we need you to continue to do your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Please practice physical distancing at all times and please continue to look after each other.”

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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