OTTAWA -- Giant circles have been painted at Mooney’s Bay to encourage beach-goers to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Ottawa painted circles at the popular Ottawa beach on Friday after hundreds of people packed the beach this week during the heat warning.

In a statement on its website, the City of Ottawa says, “the circles help people who are sitting and having a picnic at the park to remain at a safe two-metre distance from other park-goers.”

“You simply enter an unoccupied circle, lay out your blanket or pop-up your lawn chair, and catch some rays or a nice breeze coming off the Rideau River.”

The physical distancing circles have been painted in parks in New York, San Francisco and Toronto.

Mooney’s Bay is open for the public, but Ottawa Bylaw reminds people that Ontario’s COVID-19 measures limit gatherings to less than five people in public or private settings.

Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, General Manager of Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Dan Chenier said the city decided to paint the giant seven-foot wide circles after noticing people were not following the physical distancing guidelines at the beach this week.

“This week, many people flocked to Mooney’s Bay during the heat wave and were observed in groups of more than five and not maintaining physical distancing,” Chenier said told reporters.

“We’ve received numerous complaints and Bylaw and our park ambassadors have been in the park trying to address the situation as quickly as possible.”

Chenier says the circles are “another feature” that will ensure people can enjoy Mooney’s Bay while also respecting the physical distancing requests.

The circles are 12 feet apart at Mooney’s Bay.

“Now when you come to the park, put your blanket or chair in an unoccupied circle and feel secure that you’re at a safe distance from others,” Chenier said.

The City of Ottawa painted the circles at Mooney’s Bay as a pilot project to see if people are respecting physical distancing, and may expand it to other parks in Ottawa.

Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services says officers have increased their presence at five locations to make sure people are following the COVID-19 rules – Mooney’s Bay, Petrie Island, Westboro Beach, McKay Lake and Britannia Beach.