The City of Toronto has begun to fine non-essential businesses that remain open and announced the immediate closure of playgrounds and parks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
City officials said this is all being done as part of Toronto’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Toronto Fire Services Chief Matthew Pegg said gates will be locked and non-gated areas will be taped off.
Included in the closures are picnic sites, park shelters, sport courts, off-leash dog parks and trails, skate parks, frisbee-golf and outdoor fitness equipment, tennis courts and community gardens.
“While the public has been advised that fresh air and exercise is good if you are not ill … it has been observed that individuals are using parks and their amenities to congregate. The public has also shared its concerns about how parks amenities are supporting that congregation,” a release from the city said on Wednesday.
As for businesses that were deemed non-essential by the Ford government, Pegg said Toronto Public Health attended 59 bars and restaurants in the city and issued four warning letters to businesses that weren’t complying to the closure of dine-in seating.
Pegg said the city received 38 complaints about businesses not complying and notices were issued to two gyms in the city that remained opened. He said staff will check on them again Wednesday to make sure they have closed.
In the event that businesses do not comply, Pegg said Toronto police will be called upon to enforce the rules.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, also urged condo boards, all Toronto schools and Toronto community housing to close all of their playgrounds and amenities, as well.
De Villa said that as of 1 p.m., there are 319 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Toronto, up 39 from Tuesday. Twenty-two people are hospitalized.
She said 16 per cent of cases can be attributed to community spread.
The city has also seen three new deaths related to the virus, de Villa said. An elderly man with pre-existing conditions and two residents from Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home.
Mayor John Tory recently declared a state of emergency for Toronto on Monday, marking the first time the city has been under one.
The emergency declaration gives Tory the ability to make certain decisions that normally require full city council approval.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Ontario had 671 active cases of coronavirus, nine deaths and eight resolved.