Following a weekend that saw far too many residents outside enjoying the nice weather, Premier Doug Ford has announced the closure of all sports fields and playgrounds in Ontario.
This move comes just days after Mayor John Tory announced similar measures in Toronto with the intention of stopping the spread of the virus. However, after videos and photos surfaced online of people gathering in groups at closed public spaces over the weekend, despite warnings from the government officials, Tory implemented hefty fines of up to $5000 for those caught in violation of the new policy.
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And now, under the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Premier Ford has issued an emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act Monday evening to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds.
“I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus,” said Premier Ford 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. We all need to work together and do our part to stop COVID-19 by staying home, practising physical distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”
The list of closures covered under this action includes communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario, including but not limited to the following:
- Sports fields
- Basketball and tennis courts
- Off-leash dog parks
- Skateboard and BMX parks
- Picnic areas
- Outdoor community gardens
- Park shelters
- Outdoor exercise equipment
- Condo parks and gardens
- Other outdoor recreational amenities
Additionally, green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that aren’t otherwise closed would remain open for walkthrough access, but individuals must maintain a safe physical distance of at least two metres apart from others. Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed.
This news comes as health officials confirmed 351 new known cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the province’s total up to 1,706. A total of 23 people have now died from the virus in the province, while 431 patients have recovered.