London, Ont. community clean-ups cancelled, delayed due to novel coronavirus pandemic

The Thames River in the London, Ont., region. Todd Sleeper, Friends of the Thames/Facebook

While organizers say high water and storms have forced the Thames River Clean Up to reschedule many times over its 20-year history, the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced its outright cancellation for 2020.

Organizers of the annual event, which is normally held in late April in celebration of Earth Day, made the announcement on Thursday.

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“Unfortunately, the organizers cannot ensure physical distancing and public safety during this year’s event,” wrote Todd Sleeper and Julie TerVrugt of Friends of the Thames in a statement.

Meanwhile, the City of London posted on its website that “the 2020 London Clean & Green program has been delayed until further notice.”

City officials say the announcement impacts all organized cleanups, as well as the supply of gloves and bags from the city or from London Clean and Green, and the collection of litter and garbage from cleanups by the city.

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“This decision is based on the rules provided by the Province of Ontario such as the Closure of Outdoor Recreational Amenities and important healthcare advice about public gatherings from the Middlesex-London Health Unit,” the city stated on its website.

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“The health and safety of our volunteers, partners, and the community is our top priority. We look forward to re-launching our 25th year of London Clean & Green when it becomes clear it is safe to do so.”

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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.

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