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Coronavirus: Saint John keeping playgrounds open as neighbouring communities closes theirs

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. Tim Roszell/Global News

Saint John is defending its decision to keep playgrounds open during the COVID-19 outbreak as Moncton and other neighbouring communities ask kids to stay away.

“The City of Saint John is following directives and recommendations from public health in our response to COVID-19,” said Lisa Caissie, manager of communications for the City of Saint John, in an email statement to Global News.

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Caissie said the province has not recommended the closures of parks and trails, so those remain open as well.

“We are monitoring the evolving situation on a 24 hour basis and, should this directive change, we will act accordingly and notify the public immediately,” Caissie said.

She also encouraged residents to take necessary safety precautions and practice social distancing when using parks and trails.

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However, Rothesay and Quispamsis, both minutes from Saint John, have opted to close their playgrounds. But trails remain open.

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The playground structures at Rothesay Common had yellow “caution” tape wrapped around them in an attempt to keep the public away, although the Common itself was still a popular spot for exercise Wednesday with a number of residents.

Moncton deemed its public playground equipment off limits on Tuesday, according to Director of Corporate Communications Isabelle LeBlanc.

“We are also preparing signage that will be installed at various areas regarding outdoor equipment not being sanitized,” LeBlanc said, in an email.

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Playgrounds in Riverview and Dieppe are also closed.

“Our neighborhood parks (playgrounds) are closed during the winter,” said Julie Albert, a Communications and Public Relations Officer with the City of Dieppe. “Therefore, they were closed when the pandemic started and still are.”

All the communities said they would be monitoring the latest developments and directives from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell.

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