London, Ont., sports fields, baseball diamonds, and dog and skate parks are among the outdoor amenities being reopened for public use by the city, albeit with new coronavirus pandemic-related health measures and precautions.
The change comes days after the province implemented stage one of its three-stage reopening framework, and extended emergency orders until the end of the month.
City officials stress that gatherings of more than five people who are not from the same household are still barred under provincial orders, and that social distancing guidelines still apply.
In a statement, Mayor Ed Holder said Londoners are being counted on to abide by pandemic health guidelines to ensure the spaces are safe for everyone.
“We know residents are excited to get some fresh air and exercise and we appreciate their patience as City staff work to get all of these park amenities open,” he said.
According to the city, the following amenities have reopened as of Thursday:
- Outdoor sports fields, baseball diamonds, and basketball courts for non-team sports that allow physical distancing;
- Skate parks, disc golf, benches, picnic tables, and park shelters, provided that physical distancing of at least two metres is maintained and that residents be aware the amenities are not sanitized and people using them should wash or sanitize their hands afterward;
- Off-leash dog parks, provided that residents engage in physical distancing and other necessary health measures, like sneezing or coughing into a sleeve, elbow, or disposable tissue, and washing hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Tennis and pickleball courts are also being reopened as part of the plan, but some may not be ready for use until the end of the week as staff are in the process of installing nets, the city says.
Those heading to a course will have to follow a new list of pandemic-related golfing policies and procedures before they tee off.
Community gardens also reopened on Saturday, but only to registered gardeners, who are also being asked to follow new guidelines.
Provincial leaders have indicated that each phase of the government’s reopening framework will last between two to four weeks to allow health officials to monitor the impact of each set of changes.
Regarding gathering size limits, the province said Tuesday that word on any “additional adjustments” to social gatherings, childcare and schools will come later and be informed by advice from Ontario’s top doctor.
London reported six new novel coronavirus cases on Thursday, along with nine recoveries and a newly declared outbreak.
Two of the cases were linked to seniors’ facilities, officials said.
Health officials reported three new cases and four recoveries on Wednesday, and reported 11 new cases on Tuesday.
–With files from Global News’ Beatrice Britneff
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