Ontario municipalities are cracking down on park users violating provincial social distancing orders. The York Region closed all York Regional Forest trails until further notice on Saturday.
Toronto and Newmarket are using bylaw and police officers to ensure the social distancing orders and park closures are obeyed.
Ontario’s closures follow similar moves in B.C., Alberta, Nova Scotia, and the closure of National Parks. All closures were enacted after various user groups flocked to green spaces in defiance of social distancing orders.
For your safety and the safety of others, all 21 forest tracts in the York Regional Forest are closed until further notice. Closing the forest will help prevent the spread of #COVID19 and protect our community.
— York Region (@YorkRegionGovt) April 4, 2020
York Regional Forests closed
The York region closed all regional forests and trails, over 2,300 hectares of land, to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The closure enacted Saturday is indefinite.
Municipalities across the province are closing public parks and green spaces. Most closures have been enacted after groups of park users have been witnessed violating social distancing orders. While most Ontarians are following the new rules to help “flatten the curve,” there continue to have been reports of group rides. Group rides are defined as two or more people who do not live in the same immediate household.
On Friday, the City of Hamilton closed Bayfront Park after crowds continued to gather. Last week the Hamilton-to-Brantford Rail Trail, the Dofasco 2000 Trail and the Lafarge 2000 Trail were all closed.
Toronto Police Officers are patrolling parks & public squares on horses, bikes, in cars and on-foot to enforce public health orders and a social distancing by-law. Tickets will be issued for those not respecting the law. Please do your part to keep us all safe. #COVID #StayHome pic.twitter.com/aGd7qi8c4a
— Mark Saunders (@marksaunderstps) April 3, 2020
Toronto introduces fines for violating social distancing
On Thursday, the City of Toronto announced its newest COVID-19 related by law: requiring people in parks and public squares to remain two metres apart, unless they live in the same household. The city’s police officers have begun enforcing the bylaw.
In Newmarket, bylaw officers are set to begin enforcing fines for violating parks closures, and for social gatherings of more than five people.
Newmarket Bylaw Officers are set to issue fines starting at $750 for social gatherings during #COVID19. If you see non-compliance, report it by calling 905-895-5193 (press 3 for after-hours) or email email@example.com. Our social media accounts are not monitored 24/7. pic.twitter.com/yjaJCOVHiU
— Town of Newmarket (@TownofNewmarket) April 4, 2020