reporting social distancing violations

Bylaw officer assaulted while trying to enforce social distancing orders in Toronto

Removing signs from park equipment, starting bonfires at Bluffers Park, gathering in groups near the lake: Toronto residents continue to exhibit what city officials describe as "troubling behaviour" in this, the fifth weekend since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

More than 300 people have now been ticketed for not practicing physical distancing and, as of Friday, at least one person has been arrested for assaulting a member of the city's COVID-19 Enforcement Team.

"Yesterday, the City received 440 complaints involving people using outdoor amenities or not practising physical distancing in parks," reads a press release issued by the City of Toronto, noting that the number of tickets dished out since April 3 has risen to 338.

"The enforcement team continues to see troubling behaviour as weather improves and people become frustrated with restrictions... Long lines without proper social distancing continue to form outside businesses," the release continues.

"Most disturbing, yesterday while performing his duties, an enforcement officer was assaulted in a park. An arrest has been made."

Police have yet to provide details of the assault or the suspect's identity.

Toronto Public Health and the department of Municipal Licensing & Standards has now issued 41 tickets and 117 notices since March 24 to non-essential businesses which continue to operate in contravention of emergency orders.

At least 30 complaints related to illegal business operations were filed with the city on Friday alone.

Once praised by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Mayor John Tory for their near-total levels of compliance, it seems as though some bar and restaurant owners have grown frustrated enough with the province's pandemic-mandated closures to defy them.

Individual citizens similarly appear to be breaking the rules in greater numbers than what was recorded in previous weeks: Last long weekend, officers issued 48 notices over the course of three days — just seven more than the count for yesterday on its own.

"The City of Toronto continues to respond to COVID-19," noted the city in its press release on Saturday.

"The coordinated COVID-19 Enforcement Team, made up of staff from Municipal Licensing & Standards, Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Toronto Public Health, Toronto Building, and Toronto Police Service, will be out all weekend ensuring people across the city are following public health direction and provincial orders."

Those who get busted can expect a $1,000 fine, or worse: Toronto Public Health is reporting 3,346 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus as of April 18 with 162 deaths now confirmed.

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil

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