Mayor apologizes for 'mistakes' made during visit to crowded Toronto park

WATCH: Toronto Police nearly outnumbered park goers at Trinity Bellwoods Sunday but local residents say the ramped up presence is a ‘little too late.’ Experts say large public gatherings will lead to another spike in Ontario’s COVID positive numbers, and that could happen within the next 5-10 days. Morganne Campbell has more.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has apologized after facing criticism on social media for appearing to not follow physical distancing regulations in photos taken at Trinity Bellwoods Park amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Photos of Tory were posted on Twitter, with one user asking, “This is how you set an example?”

“John Tory you need to do your part as well,” another user said.

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Tory appears to be within two metres of others in some photos and not wearing a mask.

Thousands of people gathered at the park on Saturday appearing to not follow physical distancing rules. The scenes led to sharp criticism from officials, including the mayor himself.

Don Peat, Tory’s press secretary, told Global News the mayor did attend the park on Saturday after hearing of the large crowds.

“The mayor went to Trinity Bellwoods Park last night as he thought it important to talk to some of the people there and see why they were using the park the way they were,” Peat said.

“He gained valuable insights by doing so. This is consistent with his frequent practice of attending the scenes of major incidents in the city.”

Peat said Tory made “significant efforts” to maintain physical distancing and often asked people to keep their distance from him when they came too close.

Later Sunday evening, Tory issued an apology for his behaviour.

“I want to apologize for my personal behaviour yesterday,” he wrote.

“I visited Trinity Bellwoods Park to try to determine why things were the way they were. I fully intended to properly physically distance but it was very difficult to do.”

He said he wore a mask but “failed to use it properly, another thing I’m disappointed about.”

“These were mistakes that I made and as a leader in this city, I know that I must set a better example going forward.”

Several social media posts criticized the mayor for the use of his face mask, which appeared to be pulled down rather than over his mouth and nose.

Earlier this week, Canada’s chief medical officer of health recommended that people wear non-medical masks in public in situations where physically distancing isn’t possible.

“Wear a mask in public; don’t do it like this,” one Twitter user said.

Peat said the mayor is “getting used to wearing face coverings.”

“The mayor will make sure his mask is on properly when he is out in public in situations where public health and physical distancing guidelines recommend wearing one,” Peat said.

— With a file by Global News reporter Maryam Shah

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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