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Halifax Regional Municipality provides clarification on municipal trail closures

HRM will provide an update regarding the municipality's response to COVID-19.

The Halifax Regional Municipality has shut down its parks, beaches, playgrounds, sports fields and trails after the provincial government declared a state of emergency on Sunday.

Premier Stephen McNeil said the declaration was made after large groups of people continued to gather in large numbers at beaches and parks without following proper social distancing guidelines.

According to HRM, the new measures are “consistent” with Nova Scotia’s decision to close provincial parks and outdoor amenities.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Halifax councillor calling for HRM trails to remain open

However, there has been some confusion on municipal trail closures, and if paths can still be used.

In a statement released on Tuesday, HRM provided clarification on municipal trail closures, saying residential pathways that connect streets can still be used. Multi-use paths along streets that replace sidewalks can also be used.

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Moreover, residents can walk or cycle to a trail in their neighbourhood only, provided that trail is not connected to or in a park.

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HRM also noted that residents are not permitted to drive to trails outside of their neighbourhood.

In accordance with provincial orders, residents must not gather in groups larger than five people and must continue to follow social distancing guidelines.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — 1 Nova Scotia case resolved as total hits 51

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Mayor Mike Savage said he encourages people to stay at home, maintain physical distance and wash hands frequently.

“We are all in this together,” said Savage.

He also noted that Halifax Public Libraries are offering online access to audio-books, films, music and books “to make it easier for kids and parents to stay at home.”

Moreover, Halifax Public Library branches are providing free wifi at their now-closed buildings so that people can still connect to the internet, download items and speak to loved ones via online platforms.

In the meantime, residents are also being reminded by HRM not to call 911 for non-emergency purposes.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia declares state of emergency, announces 7 new cases of COVID-19

“Residents can call 311 and police non-emergency lines,” said HRM as it stressed that there will be no reductions in public safety service levels due to the state of emergency.

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“All essential services of the municipality – including 311, fire and police – are operational and adhering to the most updated guidance and precautions from health officials.”

In addition, more closures were announced regarding recreation programmings and arenas.

READ MORE: HRM closes parks, trails and beaches as province declares state of emergency

According to HRM, all municipal spring recreation programming is cancelled. Summer recreation program registration scheduled for April 1 is also cancelled.

“The status of summer recreation programming will be determined at a later date,” HRM said.

During this time, some municipal arenas will begin to remove ice surfaces for maintenance. HRM said that should this affect a previous booking, staff will be contacting residents about refunds.

-With files from Graeme Benjamin and Alexa MacLean