bellwoods circles

John Tory says social distancing circles in Trinity Bellwoods Park could return

Shortly after last summer's Trinity Bellwoods "Coachella" incident in which hundreds flocked to the popular Toronto park to hang out with friends while businesses were closed, the city decided to introduce social distancing circles, which had proven effective at keeping households apart in the public spaces of other locales.

The end result felt a little dystopian, but a logical solution to the throngs of people getting together in the park on sunny weekend days while the public was being asked to stay home and away from others they didn't live with.

Nearly a year later, the city is back in full lockdown and under a stay-at-home order along with the rest of the province, just as the weather is beginning to get nice again, which has already led to some uncomfortable overcrowding in the city's green spaces as residents without their own outdoor space or a patio to visit try and get outside.

Many are now wondering if the painted social distancing circles might return, and Mayor John Tory has just confirmed after another busy weekend for parks that yes, they likely will.

"Of course people are supposed to go outside and engage in safe, healthy activity," Tory said at a press conference on Monday.

"One of the things we're thinking of doing is to repaint some of the circles in parks to help with the distancing because that's sometimes a challenge on a nice day."

He added that enforcement officers will be out to make sure everyone is abiding by the rules, which he admitted are "open to interpretation" when it comes to what qualifies as outdoor exercise and getting some fresh air under the stay-at-home order.

He suggests going for a walk in your own local park rather than going to a green space elsewhere in the city, and, of course, staying physically close with only those you share a home with.

Many already seem on board with the return of the circles, with some even suggesting they get an upgrade to become hearts.

Though they will definitely help curb the lack of proper distancing in parks such as Bellwoods like they did last year, the question of which level of enforcement is necessary still remains. Nearby cities like Kingston, Ontario have gone as far as closing parks to prevent excessive gathering.

Local authorities there issued a release last week advising citizens to treat parks as "a walk-through or a thoroughfare rather than a destination."

The Kingston release continues on to say that "police will not be treating sedentary activities, such as sitting or sunbathing while in parks and other recreational amenities, as exercise, and therefore these activities are not an exemption to the stay-at-home order."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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