Torontonians' options just got a little more limited. As the city continues to battle the spread of COVID-19 in Toronto, Mayor John Tory isn't waiting to use his emergency powers. Tory ordered all city-owned parks and playgrounds to shut on Wednesday, March 25.
In his update, the mayor, who was granted emergency powers on Monday after Toronto's first coronavirus-related death, detailed what the latest closures will entail.
"Effective today, all facilities within the city's more than 1500 parks are closed to the public, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus," Tory said as he read from a statement.
"This includes playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, sports courts, leash-free zones, picnic shelters, sports fields, skateboard parks, and other parks amenities."
So, while the parks themselves will remain open, none of the amenities will.
Tory went on to acknowledge that closing these facilities will cause discomfort and disruption to local communities.
However, he described it as a vitally necessary measure, in line with the repeated health advice about social distancing and in the battle to help flatten the curve of the global pandemic.
Per CP24, Toronto's Fire Chief Matthew Pegg warned residents that locks will be placed on fenced or gated areas, while signs will advise of closures in unfenced areas.*
Pegg added that anyone trying to access closed areas could face fines of up to $5,000.
On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford took the strong step of ordering the closure of all "non-essential" businesses in the province for a minimum of two weeks.
The following day, Toronto's police chief said officers are ready to enforce these closures if shops do not shut voluntarily.
As reported by the Toronto Star, the city's associate medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said on Wednesday that 40 people with COVID-19 in the province are in hospital right now, with 17 of those in an ICU.
In Ontario, the OPP have said they will be coming down hard on residents who don't comply with new rules which include not gathering in groups of 50 people or more. Individuals could be fined up to $1,000.
And in the 6ix, those found to have violated emergency orders could be hit with a fine of up to $100,000 or even face up to one year in jail.
Toronto is certainly taking the pandemic seriously.
The city's health chief, Dr. Eileen De Villa, confirmed on Tuesday that there were 280 cases of COVID-19 in the city.
She also criticized residents who are not follow guidelines or orders, suggesting they are "putting our civil liberties in jeopardy."
*This article has been updated.