Mayor Tory signs emergency order encouraging physical distancing in parks and public squares

2-Apr-2020

Today, Mayor John Tory signed an emergency order regulating physical distancing in City of Toronto parks and public squares.

Any two people who don't live together, who fail to keep two metres of distance between them in a park or public square, will be subject to prosecution and will be liable for a fine of up to $5,000 upon conviction. The City has asked the Chief Justice of the Province of Ontario to issue a set fine for this offence.

The Mayor took this emergency action – which is in effect for at least the next 30 days - to further drive home the message that people have to keep their distance from each other to avoid spreading COVID-19 in our city and to save lives.

Mayor Tory and the City’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, are asking Toronto residents to take the message of staying home, except when absolutely necessary, with the seriousness that the situation requires.

To save lives, protect our healthcare system, and get the economy and City back to normal as quickly as possible, the public must follow the advice – and orders communicated publicly on several occasions – to stay home as much as possible.

This weekend, the public can expect to see increased enforcement of orders and laws designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

A COVID-19 Enforcement Team of 200 Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Officers, 10 Toronto Public Health Bylaw Officers, plus the resources of the Toronto Police Service will enforce the new physical distancing bylaw, provincial orders banning organized social gatherings of more than five people, bans on using closed playgrounds and other parks amenities, and the closure orders on non-essential businesses that remain open.

The enforcement team will be responding to complaints and proactively patrolling parks and other public spaces, all in an effort to ensure public understanding of the need to limit social interactions.

Fines for violating a provincial order under the Emergency Measures Act can range from $750 to $100,000, including up to one year in jail, for social gatherings exceeding five persons, using parks amenities which have been closed, opening non-essential businesses, and failing to identify oneself to a police officer or a provincial offences officer (bylaw officer) investigating a matter under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act.

The advice from Toronto’s public health officials has been clear and consistent: To stop the community spread of this deadly virus, we must reduce all contact with others as much as possible.

Failure to adhere to these guidelines and orders will result in more people dying from COVID-19. It will result in our healthcare system being overwhelmed and unable to treat all who need critical care. And it will result in our inability to recover more quickly – as a society and economically.

More information about the City's response to COVID-19 is available at toronto.ca/home/covid-19.

The By-Law can viewed at toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/96af-covid-19-ID_Physical-Distancing-By-law-040220.pdf

The Emergency Order can be viewed at toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/9718-covid-19-emergency-order-physcial-distancing-040220.pdf

Quote: "This is but one more measure we are taking so that your City government can assure you we are doing everything we can to stop the spread of this deadly virus now. I do want to thank the vast majority of people who are doing the right thing, following the advice of our public health officials, and staying home as much as possible, often at considerable sacrifice. To those responsible and good citizens, thank you for helping us save lives. But we continue to see, especially as the weather gets better, people ignoring that advice and worse, flocking to our parks to use even closed playgrounds, closed parking lots, and gathering together with others to play sports in the parks. This will further the spread of COVID-19 in our city and cost lives. We will continue to do everything we can as a municipal government to lock the city down in order to save lives." - Mayor John Tory

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