Social distancing circles: The future of public spaces?

With the summer season bringing in the hotter temperature, more people will want to go outside and spend time with friends.

But with the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, public spaces have either been closed to the public or have a police presence to enforce social distancing.

Parks have remained open amid this pandemic, but with situations like the one where over 10,000 people at Trinity Bellwoods Park ignored the social distancing requirements while the police were around, new methods have been used to ensure people can go to these public spaces and maintain a proper social distance.

This is where social distancing circles come in.

A look at the social distancing circles painted on the park grass

The idea for Toronto parks to begin adopting this idea first began after the large crowding situation.

Similar to the ones used in parks located in Brooklyn and San Francisco, the circles drawn in the grass will allow groups or families to sit down in the park as the temperature gets higher, while at the same time maintaining a proper distance from the other groups or families that may be in the park.

The method proved to be both popular and successful, as people living in the American cities say these circles are both effective and safe.

Toronto painted social distancing circles for Trinity Bellwoods on May 28, and a whole set of rules were made for those who wanted to go to the park.

Each circle is about eight feet wide according to a statement made by the city of Toronto, and circles are 10 feet apart from each other.

The statement also says the circle can contain two adults lying down or three adults sitting cross-legged inside the circle. The statement also emphasizes that those inside the circle should also be living in the same household due to the restrictions put in place for social gatherings.

If all circles are occupied, the city asks that you come back to the park at another time or relocate to another park to avoid overcrowding.

Trinity Bellwoods is capable of fitting 300 to 400 circles, and the creation of these circles costs approximately $12 to create one.

But how has the placement of circles affected the number of people going to Trinity Bellwoods?

Based on the number of people going to Trinity Bellwoods this past weekend in comparison to the crowds that came on May 25, the idea is working.

The park was much calmer and had fewer people on May 30 in comparison, and according to police on the scene, the individuals present were much more compliant with the social distancing measures and stayed within their circles.

Considering the park had more police presence in comparison to May 25, officers present were relieved to see smaller crowds and rule-abiding citizens enjoying the park on the weekend.

With less crowding and more social distancing being practiced at these public spaces, one can argue that the method is effective and that more parks within the city and the country as a whole may see these circles painted on as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Parks aren’t the only places where social distance circles are being placed, as art exhibits are also using them for viewers to appreciate the art while remaining at a safe distance from one another.

A Vincent van Gogh exhibit titled “Immerse van Gogh” opens on July 1 and will be located on 1 Yonge St., south of Lake Shore Blvd.

The art exhibition is going to feature a curated selection from 2,000 of van Gogh’s artworks.
The art exhibition is going to feature a curated selection from 2,000 of van Gogh’s artworks.

Svetlana Dvoretsky, a co-producer of Lighthouse Immersive, says the use of these circles will help with the worries of the viewers.

“We are optimistic that cultural venues and destinations will soon be able to open to larger gatherings and we are taking every measure to ensure that our patrons will be able to fully engross themselves in the incredible scale and visual impact of the art, film and sound experience – without worrying about social distancing”.

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