Here's how many people got fined for not social distancing in Toronto this weekend
With hefty fines now in place for failing to follow social distancing rules and an abundance of police officers out and about looking specifically for offenders, Toronto may finally be starting to get the message that officials mean business when it comes to slowing down the spread of COVID-19.
And yet, there are still those who are somehow unaware — or simply don't care — about new municipal bylaws that say residents must stay at least two metres away from one another in parks and in other city-owned public spaces.
Ditto for those who've been asked to stay home rather than, say, bring their entire families down to busy local beaches.
Toronto police and bylaw officers were forced to turn away nearly 1,000 vehicles from areas such as High Park, Bluffers Park and Woodbine Park on Saturday alone, according to city officials.
"The City thanks the vast majority of people who are doing the right thing by staying home as much as possible and keeping their distance from others in public," reads a press release issued by the City of Toronto on Sunday. However, "some problem locations persist."
"Yesterday, 311 received 141 complaints about gatherings and unsafe behaviour at parks," wrote the city, noting that 800 vehicles were turned away from Bluffers Park in Scarborough on the first day of their social distancing enforcement blitz.
In terms of people getting in trouble for not following social distancing rules, bylaw enforcement officers for Toronto's Municipal Licensing and Standards division spoke to at least 780 people on Saturday.
Those people merely got a talking-to in the form of officers educating them on public health recommendations and mandatory closures. Another 373 people were "cautioned" against bad behaviour.
Police only issued nine tickets to those violating orders, each of them for $750 with the potential of a $5,000 fine upon conviction.
. @TorontoPolice @ParkingTPS continue to support the @cityoftoronto By-law Officers with their enforcement efforts. All City Park parking lots are closed at this time; pay attention to signage or risk tickets & towing #COVID-19 #beaches @ShawnaCoxon @TPScott_baptist pic.twitter.com/u2YQRsOhob— TPS Traffic Services (@TrafficServices) April 5, 2020
MLS officers are said to have given out just one ticket related to the closure of park amenities and five to non-essential businesses that were still operating despite being ordered by the province to close.
An additional 28 complaints about non-essential businesses remaining open were filed through Toronto Public Health, which issued two formal notices.
Colloquially, some on Twitter reported that their neighbours had been penalized for hosting gatherings with fines of up to $8,000 in one apartment building.
Hey @TorontoPolice there's a group of guys drunkenly hanging out in a cluster in the lobby of a building none of them seem to live in. Want to start enforcing those social distancing fines? This is 1135 Logan Ave. pic.twitter.com/AbeGUtxQZF— Ariel Fisher (@Afis8) April 4, 2020
Fortunately, Toronto Mayor John Tory said on Monday morning that this weekend was far better in terms of citizen compliance than what we saw happening last weekend.
"I think that people are starting to get the message that we need everyone to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our city," said Tory.
"I hope that people will continue to behave responsibly over these next few weeks, as they will be key in our efforts to flatten the curve."
Please remember that all City-owned playgrounds and other parks amenities have been closed as part of our continuing efforts to stop the spread of #COVID19. We only get one chance to stop this virus. Do the responsible thing and avoid all City playgrounds and parks amenities. pic.twitter.com/P4PStZcQVM— John Tory (@JohnTory) April 4, 2020
The city said similarly in its press release that "early reports from frontline enforcement staff are encouraging."
"Many people in city parks are practising physical distancing and only travelling in small groups from the same household," reads the statement.
"In many instances, where enforcement officers have spoken to park goers, people have responded positively to education about public health recommendations and willingly adjusted their behaviour."
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