Toronto parks were packed this weekend as warm weather brought the masses outside
Toronto got what felt like its first real taste of summer this weekend as strong, sustained sunshine brought temperatures up to 20, luring so many people out into the parks and streets that it felt like a normal Sunday — as in the kind of Sunday we were all used to experiencing before a global pandemic hit.
No doubt eager to get out of the house after an atypically-cold April, people could be spotted in droves all over the city.
You wouldn't even know that social distancing orders were still in place when looking at hotspots like the Harbourfront or Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Emergency orders meant to combat the spread of COVID-19 are very much still in effect, however, as people on Twitter who didn't like what they saw outside were keen to point out.
"I understand it was a great day in Toronto with the sun shining bright outside," wrote one. "But was it really necessary to flock the streets with your loved ones and amplify the ongoing pandemic?"
"It feels like Toronto is 'over' the quarantine orders. The whole city is outside... people don't seem frightened anymore," wrote another. "I hope everyone can still stay safe. People are still dying, and more will continue to."
Much clear evidence was shared on Sunday of people failing to practice physical distancing, but unlike the recent anti-lockdown protests at Queen's Park, it didn't seem as though people were intentionally flouting the rules.
Healthy Toronto residents are still allowed, and even encouraged to go outside for fresh air and exercise, so long as they do it responsibly, while saying at least two metres away from people they don't live with.
"People in parks ratting on other people in parks is the most Toronto thing," joked one Twitter user.
"No, wait...that's second most. The most Toronto thing is being pissed off that everyone else didn't responsibly stay home so you could safely go outside. That's Peak Toronto."
Whatever their stance on going out to get exercise, many in the city seem to agree that people will go outdoors in greater and greater numbers as warmer weather settles in.
"The pandemic is not going to be over soon so we need sustainable solutions," wrote one local. "People need to get outside and exercise. I can't imagine spending 7 weeks in a small condo. In urban areas like Toronto we need to expand not reduce our green space and allow people outside safely."
"I went outside for a walk today (like we’re allowed to?) and there were people EVERYWHERE just chilling. The City of Toronto said you can go outside (for exercise) but keep moving and folks decided to have a picnic with their buds? It felt bad. did we all forget?" wrote another.
"I feel really bad for adding to the numbers of people out and also holy sh*t my brain desperately needed that."
Some are calling for better enforcement of existing social distancing rules after witnessing so many people out congregating over the weekend.
As of Saturday, bylaw enforcement and police officers had issued 594 tickets to individuals for violating public health measures and making use of closed park amenities since April 3.
Another 13,676 people had been "spoken to" by authorities in city parks for their bad behaviour since a state of emergency was declared over COVID-19 in Toronto.
While the city is no longer fining people for using park benches, those who are caught disobeying pandemic orders (read: chilling with friends in large groups, using playground equipment, or failing to keep a distance of two metres from other people) can face fines of anywhere from $750 to $5,000.
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