Many Canadians have been taking advantage of warmer weather to venture outside after spending weeks in lockdown because of COVID-19, but the easing of restrictions has sparked a backlash in Toronto.
A statement from the city said thousands of people packed Trinity Bellwoods Park in the downtown area on Saturday and some were flouting physical distancing regulations.
The city called the crowds “unacceptable” and that they threatened to undo the work done over the last 10 weeks to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Mayor John Tory said bylaw officers and police would be out in force Sunday to ensure the rules on distancing are followed.
The city has made it illegal to come within two metres of someone from a different household in parks and public squares. Those who break the bylaw could be handed a $1,000 ticket on the spot, though officers can also issue higher tickets — subject to the court system — in which fines go up to $5,000 on conviction.
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Toronto began reopening park amenities on May 20 for the first time in more than two months. At the same time, people are now being allowed to shop inside stores with street entrances.
The city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, condemned the “selfish and dangerous behaviour” of people flocking to parks.
I understand that the photos of people in Trinity Bellwoods were disappointing today. 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. (1/3) <a href=”https://t.co/cKVj0DdBhh”>pic.twitter.com/cKVj0DdBhh</a>
She noted the city has seen an uptick in cases of COVID-19, reporting 258 new cases on Friday alone.
“I think people need to at some point go on with their lives. We just have to find a way to do it in a safe fashion,” said Dr. David Carr, an emergency physician with the University Health Network in Toronto.
Ontario’s rolling five-day average of new COVID-19 cases has been trending steadily upward since May 12.
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Carr said Ontario started reporting more than 400 new cases in one day, after dipping below 300, about 10 to 12 days after Mother’s Day.
For Muslims across Canada, Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan and a month of fasting during daylight hours, began Saturday at sunset. Physical distancing and social gathering restrictions mean the some of the usual events have been cancelled or modified.
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Chair of the Manitoba Islamic Association Idris Elbakri said the three-day festival of feasting and praying together will be “very different” for at least 25,000 Muslims living across the province who are breaking the fast.
Elbakri is encouraging people to join the Winnipeg Grand Mosque’s live streaming of Sunday’s sermon on the Islamic group’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
Upcoming summer powwows across Canada are being cancelled or forced to go online due to restrictions on public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this worries Josee Bourgeois, an Algonquin dancer from Pikwakanagan First Nation outside of Ottawa.
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She says many people in First Nations communities use powwows to kick off their summer and that being outside and reuniting with friends and family is good for their mental health.
As of 6 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 83,621 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 43,318 of those considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths attributed to coronavirus based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s journalism stood at 6,447.
Federal public health officials have been encouraging people to stick with frequent handwashing, cough etiquette, physical distancing and staying home when sick. On Wednesday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam added another recommendation, saying people should wear non-medical face masks in public when they aren’t sure they will be able to physically distance.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday that, for the first time in a long while, no new cases have been reported among residents of the province’s long-term care homes.
Days into B.C.’s transition into Phase 2 of re-opening, Henry noted the probability of new infections will go up as there are more gatherings — and that could be reflected in the number of cases early next week.
“Catching it early means we can respond, and make sure the chains of transmission are stopped,” she said. “The faster we can identify new cases, the faster we can respond to prevent spread.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
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In Alberta, Calgary and Brooks will join the rest of the province by allowing bars, restaurants, hair salons and barbershops to open on Monday, while more restrictions will be lifted across the province on June 1.
Premier Jason Kenney said Friday that the decision comes on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, though he warned that the virus is still a threat.
“While this is positive news for many, it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods yet,” said Kenney. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
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Saskatchewan said it will move to the next phase in its reopening on June 8. Bars and restaurants are among the businesses that will be allowed to reopen in Phase 3, though they will have to operate at reduced capacity and with physical distancing measures in place. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
In Manitoba, two residential care homes run by the same company have been fined a total of more than $5,000 for violating public health orders in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
The homes are run by the private home-care business Daughter on Call, which confirmed earlier this week that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19 on May 10. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
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Ontario reported 412 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, continuing an upward trend and pushing the total number of cases in the province to more than 25,000 since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, new testing regulations took effect on Saturday, with asymptomatic front-line health-care workers being tested across the province.
The province will also begin a second round of testing in long-term care homes, which have been hardest hit by COVID-19. As criticism mounts about the number of tests being done in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford appealed to anyone with symptoms on Friday to visit a COVID-19 assessment centre. Read more about what’s happeing in Ontario.
In Quebec, advocates say Montreal police have been unfairly ticketing homeless people and the support workers helping them and are calling for a moratorium on fines given to people living in the street.
New Brunswick reported no new coronavirus cases on Saturday. A case reported Wednesday in the Campbellton region remains active and is still under investigation. The total number of cases is 121 with 120 of those patients listed as recovered. No one with COVID-19 is in hospital. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia reported one new case on Saturday.
“New case numbers are staying low and we continue to head in the right direction. We can, and should, be proud of how we’ve fared,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in a press release sent out Saturday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
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Prince Edward Island moved into Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, and is now allowing retail stores to open their doors to the public with physical distancing measures. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new coronavirus cases on Saturday, marking 16 days without a new case. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., where the government has announced new measures to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.
There were no new cases of coronavirus reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Thursday. Read more about what’s happening across the North.