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York region closes trails to prevent spread of COVID-19

New Toronto by-law includes fine for violating social distancing orders

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.

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.

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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 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.