Ontario closes all playgrounds, sports facilities and off-leash dog parks
TORONTO -- Ontario has closed all outdoor recreational facilities, including playgrounds, sports fields and off-leash dog parks, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In an emergency order issued Monday evening, the provincial government said that the decision was made on advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Under the order, all communal or shared, public or private outdoor recreational amnenity in Ontario will be closed. The list is extensive and includes playgrounds, sports fields and courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters and condo parks.
"I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. "Based on the best medical advice available, we are taking further steps today to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians by closing outdoor recreational amenities, like sports fields and playgrounds, and extending our emergency orders to save lives.”
Green spaces such as parks, trails and ravines will remain open “for walkthrough access,” according to the province. However, officials warn that individuals must maintain physical distance of at least two meters.
Cities such as Toronto and Vaughan have already closed their outdoor facilities and roped off areas such as playgrounds to help prevent their usage.
On Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that he has asked bylaw enforcement officers to start a ticketing blitz to try and deter residents from using the facilities.
“I am very fed up with this. I think it is stupid and it is life-threatening because this is the kind of thing that spreads the virus and causes the death toll in places that we have seen like New York and Italy."
Tory said that he has heard reports of people ripping down the caution tape to use the city’s playgrounds.
The provincial order comes hours after Ford announced that he would be extending the province’s state of emergency another two weeks. The original emergency declaration was issued on March 17 and was set to expire on Tuesday.
The premier added that he is willing to take “further action” if virus cases continue to spike in Ontario.