Ontario orders emergency shutdown of all outdoor recreational facilities in fight against coronavirus pandemic

The Ontario government has ordered the shutdown of all outdoor recreational facilities, including playgrounds, sports fields and off-leash dog parks, in the province as part of its increased measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The provincial government issued an emergency order Monday evening following the advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The order is part of the provincial government’s extension of the State of Emergency declaration, which will now be in effect until April 13.

Under this order, all public and private, communal or shared, outdoor recreational amenity in Ontario will be closed. The list included:

  • Playgrounds
  • Sports fields
  • Basketball and tennis courts
  • Off-leash dog parks
  • Beaches
  • Skateboard and BMX parks
  • Picnic areas
  • Community gardens
  • Park shelters
  • Outdoor exercise equipment
  • Condo parks and gardens
  • Other outdoor recreational amenities

“I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus,” 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.”

“We all need to work together and do our part to stop COVID-19 by staying home, practising physical distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”

Officials said green spaces such as parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas not currently closed off will stay open “for walkthrough access.” However, officials warn individuals to maintain a physical distance of at least two meters apart.

Under the emergency declaration, people who disobey provincial orders can be fined.

The cities of Toronto and Vaughan have already closed their outdoor facilities.

The City of Toronto has begun issuing fines for those who are using park amenities previously shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. For those who disobey the order, they could be fined a “minimum $750 and potentially as high as $5,000 so that maybe they will get the message.” Toronto Mayor John Tory said.

As of Monday evening, Ontario reported 351 cases of COVID-19, marking the biggest single-day increase in cases since the outbreak began.

There are now 7,435 confirmed cases across Canada with 89 deaths and 986 recovered.

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