Coronavirus: London off-leash dog parks closed following provincial order

FILE PHOTO. Terje Pedersen / The Canadian Press

London’s off-leash dog parks have been closed until further notice following an emergency order from the province to close all outdoor recreational amenities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The order was announced by the province Monday night under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and also impacts sports fields and playgrounds.

London closed its outdoor play structures, sports fields and golf courses just over a week ago.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — 15 new confirmed cases, 2 deaths in London-Middlesex; 11 additional cases in Lambton

“We’re just following the provincial lead, and it’s around the physical distancing,” Scott Stafford, the city’s managing director of parks and recreation, said in an interview with Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady.

We were actually seeing some very good physical distancing as we monitor the parks over the last few weeks, but it’s a place where people are going to gather. And it’s not only a social place for dogs, it’s a social place for their owners as well.”

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Stafford said some of the off-leash dog parks have turnstile gates at their entrances, which will be locked or closed effective Tuesday.

He added that the city doesn’t anticipate adding caution tape signage like it has at some of the city’s more popular playgrounds.

We do have over 175 playgrounds in the city, so we haven’t caution taped them all,” he said. “We do have signs on all of them, but we did some of the premier ones that are more exposed to just kind of reinforce that messaging.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — man throws away caution tape surrounding London, Ont. playground

Two people were caught on video Friday allegedly tearing down the caution tape surrounding the playground in Gibbons Park. The incident was reported to the city through its new tipline, and caution tape has since been restored at the playground.

Stafford said the city was still working on what to do about Londoners who may try to break the rules and get into the dog parks.

I see that there’s bylaw enforcement from our end of things, but it’s more around just trying to keep everyone safe and healthy right now,” Stafford said.

“We’re not focusing on the fine aspect of things, we’re just trying to get people to understand and listen to what we’re hearing from the province and from our own local health units”

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READ MORE: Coronavirus — New city tipline looks to crack down on Londoners violating COVID-19 orders

City parks and open spaces remain open. Londoners walking their dogs are being asked to maintain the two-metre physical distancing requirement.

The closed off-leash dog parks include:

  • Campbell Memorial Park Dog Off-Leash Area
  • Caesars Off-Leash Area (941 Commissioners Rd. E.)
  • Greenway Off-Leash Area (Greenway Park)
  • Pottersburg-FIDO Off-Leash Area (Pottersburg Park)
  • Stoney Creek Off-Leash Area (Stoney Creek Meadow)

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.