KINGSTON -- One day after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared in Kingston's University District, the city is closing the popular Breakwater Park until the end of the university school year to prevent large gatherings.

Mayor Bryan Paterson has issued an emergency order to close Breakwater Park for the next 10 days.

"This timeline coincides with students move-out, but can be extended if needed. As one of our most popular community parks, closing it is a last resort," said Paterson in a statement.

“Yesterday, however, we saw troubling instances of overcrowding, which is especially concerning given the current outbreak in the nearby University District."

Pictures on social media showed dozens of people in the popular park along the waterfront on Thursday.  During the provincewide shutdown, outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people.

Breakwater Park will be fenced off to prevent people from gathering at the park, which runs along King Street between Lower University Avenue and Beverley Street.

Bylaw enforcement and Kingston police will be monitoring other parks in close proximity to the Queen’s University District.

On Thursday, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the nearby University District involving people aged 18 to 29. The health unit says 70 of the 95 active cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston-region involve young adults in the University District.

The health unit says investigations have revealed transmission is occurring during close, unprotected contact between individuals in social settings (including large gatherings) where physical distancing is limited and face coverings are not being worn.

"We are facing a critical time in the fight against this virus. We are putting all measures in place, including stronger enforcement of the provincial shutdown and stay-at-home restrictions to limit the spread of this outbreak," said Dr. Kieran Moore, KFL&A's medical officer of health.

"Fines will be given if provincial restrictions are not adhered to—stay home, limit social interactions to those in your household, and avoid unnecessary trips outside your home."

The city of Kingston notes the stay-at-home order allows people to leave their homes to use public amenities that are permitted to open.

However, anyone using Breakwater Park, even alone, will be subject to fines.