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A day after the mayor and medical officer of health stressed social distancing in the city, dozens of people were seen sunbathing and relaxing in close proximity in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Pictures and comments criticizing the swaths of people gathering in the park made their way on to Twitter.

“I understand that the photos of people in Trinity Bellwoods were disappointing today,” medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa tweeted. “It was a beautiful day & we all want to enjoy our city together, but this could be selfish & dangerous behaviour that could set us back.”

“The scenes today in Trinity-Bellwoods are so disappointing. This is dangerous and selfish behaviour,” Coun. Joe Cressy tweeted Saturday. “This will not end well if we don’t all do our part and respect physical distancing.”

Cressy also tweeted that senior city staff are “assessing the situation.”

Under the city’s guidelines, Toronto parks, which have been open with a number of stipulations during the pandemic, have begun to ease restrictions on public amenities such as BMX and disc golf courses, tennis courts and picnic shelters. However, social distancing rules are still in effect: members from different households must be six feet or two metres apart.

Toronto doctor, Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, posted a video on Twitter, saying he was displeased to see the people in the park disobeying social distancing requirements.

“I’m really hurt when I see that. I’m really saddened when I see that because I wonder if those people know the sacrifices that people like myself, my colleagues, in the emergency room and (in) the ICU, are making to allow you to have the freedom to spend your day out in the sun.”

Toronto resident Peter Svindler said he biked from Coronation Park to the Annex when he passed through Trinity Bellwoods. As he biked through the path, he noticed “an enormous amount of people” gathered on the field at the south gates.

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“(COVID-19 has) impacted my employment, it makes me terrified for my elderly relatives,” Svindler said. “It definitely made me a little frustrated.”

The gathering came a day after a press conference where de Villa said visits on Mother’s Day may have a connection with an increase in COVID-19 confirmed cases, and that people need to remain diligent with their social distancing practices.

The city recorded another 258 cases on Friday, capping four days of increases higher than 200. On Saturday, the city announced another 220 cases and 7 dead from Friday. Previously, the numbers had been dropping since May 12, to 92 on May 18.

This week, the Star’s COVID-19 Ontario tally saw a 2.1 per cent increase from May 18 to 19. The week of May 19 to May 23 saw the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Ontario in the past two weeks.

Provincially the numbers have been higher than 400 for four days, hitting 505 on May 19.

Ontario’s death toll broke the 2,000 mark on May 18 and as of Saturday at 5 p.m., the Star’s tally of COVID-19 related deaths in Ontario is at 2,140.

David Venn
David Venn is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @davidvenn_

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