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Coronavirus: Social distancing not a challenge as Calgarians head outdoors

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WATCH ABOVE: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people in Calgary are going the distance to stay in touch. Adam Toy explains. – Mar 22, 2020

It wasn’t a surprise to see friends socializing outdoors on a spring afternoon in Calgary.

What was surprising to see was the method: one friend on the bank of a creek in Confederation Park, the other perched on the tree’s bough on the opposite side of the creek.

“This just seemed like a good way to meet,” Grace Van Bakel, a student at Central Memorial, said.

“We’re both self-isolating — Kerri because she just got back from Halifax and me because my mom comes into contact with a lot of people at work, so we decided to take that extra step and be safe.”

“And there’s no better way to do that than in the Victorian style of meet across a creek,” Kerri Lawrence, a student returning from University of King’s College, told Global News.

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READ MORE: ‘A plan is in place’: Alberta to begin enforcing social distancing

Calgarians were out in numbers for the first sunny weekend since the novel coronavirus arrived in the province.

Parents are getting their kids outdoors, some with strict social distancing.

“I’m being pretty strict, so I’m saying no jungle gym structures, nothing where we’re going to come in contact with others. We just want to make sure we’re doing our part and keeping our family safe,” Zoe Kolbuc told Global News while taking her three daughters for a walk.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has been urging Calgarians to get outside while also embracing social distancing.

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Nenshi had more tips for Calgarians when social distancing outside.

The first is stay in your neighbourhood, if you can,” Nenshi told Global News. “The sort of big destination places that people would like to go are getting a bit overcrowded, so stay in your neighbourhood.

“Number two: practice social distancing — stay two metres away by other people. Even if it means you have to cross the street, do that. If you’re walking your dog, don’t let anybody pet your dog because they pet your dog, you pet your dog, bad things can happen.

“That may sound a bit excessive, but these are the sorts of things we want to put in place so that we can continue to encourage people to get outside.”

More strict rules are in place in European countries, restricting movement in public places to leaving homes to get necessary supplies like groceries and pharmaceuticals.

Playgrounds a problem

On Saturday, Cochrane, Alta., shut down playground structures in the town. On Sunday, Rocky View County made similar restrictions.

Nenshi said the City of Calgary isn’t currently planning on shutting down playgrounds or parks in the city.

“It’s physically very tough to do that. Most playgrounds don’t have fences around them or gates you can lock,” he said.

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“We’re really encouraging people to use common sense here.

“We’re not in the position now where we’re looking at broader park closures. But if we’re finding this to be a problem, then that certainly is something on the table.”

READ MORE: Town of Cochrane closes playgrounds amid COVID-19 concerns

Nenshi advised that parents not let their kids play on playgrounds to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t use playground equipment right now,” he said.

“Take some control of your own health because the kids who are on the playground equipment, it’s too tough to keep them from touching things and touching their mouth. So I would avoid the playgrounds for now.”

Citizens need to take personal responsibility, the mayor said.

“Ultimately, no matter what we shut down, we can’t shut down every place where you could catch the virus. And what we need to do is make sure that people are being very thoughtful and responsible, and looking after their own health,” he said.