outdoor activities ontario

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.

The province also initially announced a ban on playgrounds, but they quickly reversed the decision following public outcry.

And to date, a petition calling on the province to repeal all restrictions on outdoor activities has garnered more than 41,000 signatures.

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.

"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."

Lead photo by

Jason Cook

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