Ontario could soon allow some outdoor activities to resume
The Ontario government is reconsidering its heavy restrictions on outdoor activities following plenty of criticism from experts who say they're mostly safe.
Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told CP24 Friday that conversations are currently underway about which outdoor activities can potentially resume while the stay-at-home order remains in effect.
"What the scientists have told us is that outdoor activities generally, if you can socially distance, keep that two metres apart, and when you can't, mask appropriately, that having the opportunity to be outside, to get some exercise, is excellent and it is good for our mental health," she said.
The province introduced the new outdoor amenity restriction two weeks ago in an effort to curb the spread of variants of concern, but the measure was instantly met with criticism from members of the public and experts who questioned the effectiveness of the rule considering the risk of transmission is far lower outdoors.
Recreational amenities that were required to shutter under provincial regulations include picnic tables and shelters, golf courses, disk golf courses, sports courts and fields (i.e. basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, lawn bowling greens), BMX and skate parks, outdoor fitness equipment and dry pads.
By order of Provincial Regulation, City-operated recreation amenities in parks, such as tennis courts, soccer fields, basketball courts, fitness equipment and each of the City-operated golf courses must close.— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) April 19, 2021
More info on affected #CityofTO services: https://t.co/4qmbVctxND pic.twitter.com/30a9fqKazA
The province also initially announced a ban on playgrounds, but they quickly reversed the decision following public outcry.
Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 17, 2021
Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds but gatherings outside will still be enforced. Play outside safely. Parents keep your distance & wear masks if you can’t.
And to date, a petition calling on the province to repeal all restrictions on outdoor activities has garnered more than 41,000 signatures.
Let's get outdoor sports facilities re-opened in Ontario. Sign the petition. https://t.co/aaQnCL1Y2V pic.twitter.com/OmioiXw0BL— Mark Evans (@markevans) April 18, 2021
The province's Science Advisory Table has also publicly criticized some of the measures, adding that restricting mostly-safe outdoor activities "will not control COVID-19 and will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have access to their own greenspace."
Golf enthusiasts have also been particularly outraged about the rule, but Jones said the ongoing conversations are not about golf specifically but rather the sector as a whole.
It’s a beautiful Sunday, and really tough accepting that nobody in Ontario can golf due to the latest provincial restrictions. Bumped into my new buddy at parliament and thanked him for preaching the good word. #LetusGolf pic.twitter.com/XgKYIj7A7a— Vache Hagopian (@VacheHagopian) April 18, 2021
"I would not look at golf specifically. I would look at the sector in terms of what can we safely do outside while still ensuring that we understand when people move around, when they go from region to region, it does put other communities at risk," she said.
"So I know there are a number of conversations happening regarding it and I hope that we will have news for you to share in the coming days and weeks."
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