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Winnipeg to keep sports fields closed, expand cycling routes during coronavirus

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Jason Shaw, Manager of Winnipeg's Emergency Operations Centre, provide an update on the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Winnipeg will not be opening city-owned outdoor sporting facilities this spring to continue efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19.

At a press conference Tuesday Jason Shaw, head of the city’s emergency operations centre said all city-owned athletic fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and skate parks should be considered off limits as during the pandemic.

“While the City will not be physically closing these locations, we are asking members of the community to respect the closure of these amenities,” reads a city release.

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Shaw said the city will also be expanding bicycle and active transportation routes in an effort to help with social distancing requirements during the pandemic.

The designated routes include:

• Lyndale Drive – Cromwell Street to Gauvin Street
• Scotia Street – Anderson Avenue (at St. Cross Street) to Armstrong Avenue
• Wellington Crescent – Academy Road (at Wellington Crescent) to Guelph Street
• Wolseley Avenue – Raglan Road to Maryland Street

The routes limit motor vehicle traffic to just one block throughout the designated area and are normally in place only on Sundays from June to September.

But because of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the city is putting the designation in place on all four routes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday, April 6 until May 3.

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The city says it will re-evaluate at the beginning of May to decide whether or not to leave the designations in place and Shaw said officials are considering the possibility of adding further routes to the list .

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Manitoba schools to remain closed indefinitely for school year

The city stresses the roads are not closed and cyclists and pedestrians should use caution and continue to follow the rules of the road.

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During the press conference Mayor Brian Bowman gave an update on the city’s ongoing response to COVID-19, telling reporters more than 1,800 city employees are now working from home.

He also said the letters of the Winnipeg sign at The Forks have been changed to blue to honour those on the front lines fighting COVID-19.

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Earlier in the day on Tuesday Manitoba health officials said seven more people have contracted the novel coronavirus, bringing the province’s total to 103 of Tuesday afternoon.

Manitoba schools will also remain closed indefinitely for the remainder of the school year, health officials said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 7 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, Selkirk hospital employee tests positive

At its last COVID-19 update Friday, the city announced it would close city-owned playgrounds, suspend all permits for special events and forego parking tickets for time-limit violations on residential streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that press conference Bowman also said he planned to ask council to consider calling a state of local emergency at a special council meeting scheduled for this coming Friday.

Coronavirus outbreak: Winnipeg to close city playgrounds, suspend residential parking fines
Coronavirus outbreak: Winnipeg to close city playgrounds, suspend residential parking fines

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

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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.

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.