A day after he criticized people who overcrowded a Toronto park for not physically distancing, Mayor John Tory apologized for his own lack of health precautions.
Tory was photographed at the downtown Trinity Bellwoods Park, where thousands of people had descended on Saturday, violating physical distancing requirements. But the mayor was seen with his mask hanging off his ears and covering only his chin, while talking to people at a physical distance that appeared less than two metres away from them.
“I want to apologize for my personal behaviour yesterday,” said Tory in a statement via Twitter on Sunday night. “I fully intended to properly physically distance but it was very difficult to do.”
He said he visited the park to try to determine “why things were the way they were,” referring to the hoards of people who had gathered there on one of the warmest days of the year so far.
“I wore a mask into the park but I failed to use it properly, another thing I’m disappointed about,” said Tory. “These were mistakes that I made and as a leader in this city, I know that I must set a better example going forward.”
Don Peat, a spokesperson for Tory, said the mayor had a meeting with his staff and Toronto police about the situation at Trinity Bellwoods before releasing a statement later that night.
“It’s unfortunate and extremely disappointing that so many gathered in Trinity Bellwoods to flaunt the advice of our public health professionals,” said Tory on Saturday night.
Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, called the scene “selfish and dangerous behaviour” that could set the city back. As of Sunday, Toronto has recorded more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19, with an increase of 200 over the day before A total of 759 people have died in the city due to the disease.
Toronto police said they issued nine tickets at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday for public urination, while bylaw officers wrote four tickets in the park.
“The crowd size was estimated to be in the thousands and it was determined by the officers on site that it was not practical for them to engage,” said Alex Li, a spokesperson for the Toronto police.
By Sunday, the city had increased the presence of bylaw officers at the park and more areas had been blocked off.