toboggan hills

Toboggan hills in Toronto seen jammed with unmasked families during the holidays

With ski hills now closed as part of Ontario's rigid new pandemic lockdown, residents have been turning to other winter activities like tobogganing and ice skating to get some fresh air.

Though the City has mandated appointment times for the use of rinks around the city, tobogganing has been a free-for-all, and hills have been quite packed since the blanket shutdown commenced on Dec. 26.

Given that the pastime is outdoors and inherently physically distanced, Torontonians have been encouraged to get out and enjoy one of the city's 23 designated toboggan hills this winter as recreational options dwindle.

Unfortunately, with students and parents alike off for the holidays, and many out of work in general thanks to lockdown restrictions, these sites have been found to be bustling with families in recent days, causing concern among those who are heeding directives to stay at home and away from others.

East Lynn, Withrow and Humber Valley Parks are among the popular Toronto spots found to be overrun with people trying to enjoy the snow amid measures that leave little else to do, especially for those with young children who now have an extended holiday break.

City Security was even dispatched to Birchwood Park in Mississauga amid complaints of overcrowding, though they found that there were no groups over ten people, and thus no violation of current orders, as CTV News reports.

Citizens in other parts of the province, such as Orillia, were likewise troubled and also confused about why nearby attractions like Blue Mountain have been forced to shutter while busy toboggan hills where citizens are standing "shoulder to shoulder" are deemed acceptable.

Health experts have reiterated the safety of outdoor sports like tobogganing, so long as people remain a reasonable distance from others that are not a part of their household.

And with so many limitations already in place, there would certainly be backlash to restricting one of the few activities left for citizens, especially families, to do amid the stringent lockdown.

A petition demanding Premier Doug Ford allow ski hills to open up and provide citizens a much-needed chance to get outside and exercise in a socially distant environment, for instance, has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures since the new provincial measures were announced last week.

The province has been documenting more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day for the majority of the last few weeks, with per cent positivity among those tested hovering around 3.75 per cent, per the latest numbers.

The mortality rate for the virus remains around 2.6 per cent, with the largest proportion of cases (35.4 per cent) among Ontarians ages 20-39, and the largest proportion of deaths (69 per cent) among those 80 and over. Four per cent of deaths have occurred in patients under 60.

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