These are the rules for what you can do at the beach in Toronto right now
Heading out for a day at the beach is one of the best summer activities there is in Toronto, but it's important to remember that having a beach day during a pandemic comes with a host of rules everyone should follow.
Toronto residents have been criticized in recent days for ignoring social distancing rules and crowding the city's beaches to the point where distancing wouldn't be possible even if you tried.
View a list of the top 25 beaches in and around Toronto
Cherry Beach, for example, was the site of a massive dance party last weekend and prompted many to call out beach-goers who appeared to have little concern for the fact that a contagious, deadly virus is still among us.
Premier Doug Ford even commented on the event, saying he was shocked to see the number of people who gathered there last Saturday and reminding them that "the fight is not over."
Thousands of visitors take to the beach in #Toronto as #COVID19 #COVID19Ontario restrictions are gradually lifted. pic.twitter.com/fHRsLkuDzi— Frank Gunn (@frankgunnphoto) June 20, 2020
So as we get further into the summer and the beaches become even more appealing to those who've been cooped up in their homes for months on end, here are some of the rules you should remember to follow when planning for a day of swim and sun.
First and foremost, Toronto Public Health asks that residents take the Ontario Ministry of Health self-assessment for COVID-19 before heading out to a beach. Anyone who doesn't pass the assessment should not visit a beach or any other public place.
Next, it's essential to know that physical distancing is still required.
"While visiting a beach or park, people must practise physical distancing and avoid crowding," reads a City of Toronto webpage about beaches in the age of COVID-19.
Lifeguards are now on duty from 11:30am to 6:30pm daily at six of Toronto's beaches. Swimming without a lifeguard or without supervision is not recommended. Please remember to practise #physicaldistancing & avoid crowding while at the beach. Learn more: https://t.co/2qxisoCRH8 pic.twitter.com/hptaVbPVri— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) June 25, 2020
The municipal bylaw, which requires everyone to maintain a distance of at least two metres from people outside their household, is still in effect, and anyone caught breaking this rule can receive a $1,000 ticket.
This rule does not apply to the government-recommended social circles of up to 10 people, however, and gatherings of up to 10 people are also allowed as long as physical distancing is maintained.
While face masks or coverings are not mandatory on Toronto beaches, public health officials recommend wearing one in any situation where physical distancing is difficult.
In other words, if the beach looks anything like Cherry Beach did last Saturday, you should probably be wearing a mask.
Watch and learn tips about wearing your mask. If you can't keep 2 metres (6 feet) from others, it's strongly recommended that you wear a mask or face covering. Learn more: https://t.co/KrCVAvSP0c pic.twitter.com/pvuMjeKlMy— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) June 23, 2020
Beach volleyball is currently allowed, but make sure to practise social distancing if you're playing with people outside your household or social circle.
Littering, starting fires and drinking alcohol are all prohibited on Toronto's beaches, though you certainly wouldn't know it from the actions of countless residents in recent weeks.
We’ve increased garbage bins along the waterfront & mesh bins on the City’s eastern beaches. Regular litter picking, cleanup & beach grooming takes place each day. Help keep the beaches clean by using the bins & ‘packing out’ waste when they are full. pic.twitter.com/WjxwePmmgM— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) June 25, 2020
As a result, Toronto police and bylaw officers are set to patrol the beaches this weekend to enforce all of the above-mentioned rules — so be sure to comply unless you want a hefty fine on your hands.
Six of the cities beaches (Bluffer's Park Beach, Cherry/Clarke Beach, Kew-Balmy Beach, Marie Curtis Park East Beach, Sunnyside Beach, Woodbine Beach) reopened for swimming access when lifeguards returned to the shores on June 22, and the four Toronto Island Park beaches are now open for swimming following the resumption of ferry service today.
Ferry service to #TorontoIslandPark will resume on June 27. In order to board the ferry and avoid disappointment residents should purchase a ticket online prior to arriving at the terminal and must have their own mask to wear on the ferry. More: https://t.co/OaxYL3S3pb pic.twitter.com/16wz3HV0CI— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) June 25, 2020
Rouge Valley Beach is currently inaccessible, and a supervised swim program will not operate there.
Washrooms and other facilities are currently open at all supervised beaches, but you can always check online for site-specific information on the exact facilities available at one of Toronto's beautiful waterfront spaces.
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