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Coronavirus: Okanagan municipalities close parks, playgrounds

Click to play video: 'Kelowna Mayor announces the closure of all playgrounds, vows to close more public spaces if people continue to ignore social distancing protocols' Kelowna Mayor announces the closure of all playgrounds, vows to close more public spaces if people continue to ignore social distancing protocols
Kelowna Mayor announces the closure of all playgrounds, vows to close more public spaces if people continue to ignore social distancing protocols – Mar 23, 2020

As the response to the coronavirus pandemic evolves rapidly, some municipalities in the Okanagan are closing playgrounds and parks.

At her Monday update, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said if you are not in self-isolation at home, it is okay to go outside, but only with your family members in small groups, and to keep two meters away from others while out in public.

Here’s what’s open and what’s closed when it comes to outdoor areas and recreation facilities in the Okanagan.

Coldstream

The District of Coldstream issued a statement Monday saying it is closing all of its public spaces including parks, beaches, parking lots, playing fields, skateboard parks and playgrounds immediately.

“We are asking people NOT to gather in public spaces and to respect the two-meter social distancing protocols,” the municipality said in a statement.

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This includes Kal Beach, Creekside Park, Sovereign Park and Coldstream Park.

“We had a couple incidents over the weekend where fairly large groups of people were gathering in parks to play games and that sort of thing and were basically not adhering to the provincial orders,” chief administrative officer Trevor Seibel said.

Municipal staff will lock gates on parks and put up signs to let people know the spaces are closed.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Central Okanagan regional district suspends access to play structures in parks

Kelowna

Kelowna’s mayor announced Monday afternoon the city is immediately closing 81 city playgrounds and all outside exercise facilities.

Mayor Colin Basran said this includes tennis courts, pickle ball courts, and basketball courts.

“For now, open spaces and walkways will remain open, but should users of these spaces not practice distancing, we will be forced to take further action,” Basran said.

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READ MORE: Metro Vancouver cities close outdoor sports areas as youth defy coronavirus measures

READ MORE: Coronavirus: B.C. municipalities closing community centres and other civic facilities

Regional District of Central Okanagan

On Friday, the Regional District of Central Okanagan announced it would be closing play structures in its regional and community parks.

The regional district said signs would be posted to alert people to the closures and that it might put up fencing around play equipment.

Vernon

The City of Vernon announced on Sunday that all outdoor playgrounds would close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

District of Summerland

On Tuesday, the District of Summerland said it will be closing access to several municipal playgrounds and outdoor sports facilities.

The closures will start Tuesday, March 24, at noon, and will remain in place until further notice, the district said in a press release.

The district said the closures are a response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and how some are choosing to ignore social distancing.

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Penticton

Also Tuesday, the City of Penticton announced that it has now closed all of its playgrounds and outdoor sports facilities and dog parks to help battle the spread of COVID-19.

The city said the closures include courts for tennis, basketball, pickleball and lacrosse courts, plus skate parks, sports fields and outdoor fitness equipment facilities.

“We continue to see large groups of people using these facilities, something that is in direct violation of the order to social distance from the provincial health officer,” said Penticton mayor, John Vassilaki.

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Following suit, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen also said Tuesday that effectively immediately, all RDOS playgrounds and outdoor courts
are closed indefinitely.

It said all district facilities, barring landfills, are closed to the public. The closures include satellite offices, recreation facilities, programs, and community halls.

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going' B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going
B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going – Mar 23, 2020

– with files from Doyle Potenteau and Simon Little

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