‘COVIDIOTS’ continue to gather in large groups despite public health officials urging social distancing | National Post

With entire countries such as Italy and Spain resorting to a nation-wide lockdown to keep people in their homes, Canada could potentially move in the same direction if social distancing isn’t taken seriously.

But the warnings haven’t stopped the ‘#COVIDIOTS’ who spawned a hashtag that gained quick popularity on Twitter over the weekend when users began sharing photos of packed grocery stores, beaches and parks.

The trend started in the United Kingdom with photos of shoulder-to-shoulder lines in shops and people coming in droves to parks and public areas, despite warnings from public health to stay inside and only go out for essential items.

Canadians were not immune to this trend. Although most provinces have closed schools, daycares, and restricted bars and restaurants to take-out, public spaces such as beaches and parks remain open.

Kits Beach yesterday & day before. Young people hanging out in groups. One group of teens shared a joint. Others played beach volleyball & basketball. What on earth are they thinking? I did my best to stay 6ft away from others on my run but clueless people kept invading my space pic.twitter.com/NTSvWyRqCQ

— Elvira Lount (@elviralount)

Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver was brimming with life, despite the province declaring a state of emergency last week after seeing a surge in positive cases of COVID-19.

In a blog post on the neighbourhood’s website, users said they’ve been noticing an “interesting trend” in their web stats. Since the outbreak began and social distancing was encouraged, they’ve seen an uptick in traffic to a 15-year-old blog post that contains a webcam that tracks how busy the beach is at any given point.

“We suspect that the uptick in interest is thanks to B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry being very, very clear with regards to social distancing,” the blog post reads.

In Toronto, while downtown streets remain eerily empty and highways clear, the boardwalk in the beaches this weekend was crowded.

Toronto-based entrepreneur and writer Stuart Knight posted a photo to his Facebook feed of a congested stretch of the beaches boardwalk, citing how hard it was to travel down the boardwalk while still maintaining a safe distance.

“If you don’t condone drinking and driving you can’t condone putting yourself in public places like these,” he wrote in the post. “It’s the same thing and it’s a careless way to live.”

In New York, people flocked to Central Park this weekend despite mayor Andrew Cuomo stressing the importance of social distancing as their cases soar into the thousands.

As New York’s shelter in place order went into effect yesterday, New Yorkers flocked to Central Park as a way to escape their apartments. Heres a glimpse of how NYC spent their first day. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/THqbCDbS3p

— Holly Deaton (@HollyLDeaton)

Dino Sofos, an editor at BBC News, tweeted a photo that his co-worker took of a flower market in East London on Saturday, packed to the brim.

🛑 STOP THIS NOW 🛑

Columbia Road flower market, East London.

Photo taken just now by my colleague @JJ_Bryant (who was not there as a punter). pic.twitter.com/ffplOIgewX

— Dino Sofos (@dinosofos)

“This is probably the last essential market in London, and the most tightly packed,” a Twitter user said in a response to the tweet. “This is mental.”

The U.K. is considering forcing non-essential shops to close down but has not made the order yet, unlike many other jurisdictions in the United States and several European countries.

Health Minister Patty Hadju warned the nation over the weekend that if people don’t take social distancing seriously, the government may resort to harsher measures to keep people at home.

“We will use every measure … to ensure compliance,” she told a briefing. “(This) could include monetary penalties up to, and including, criminal penalties.”

This content was originally published here.

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