With warm weather leading more people outside, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that casual stroll through the city has changed.
Even with the province’s plan to reopen the economy starting May 4, the City of Saskatoon warns it’ll be months before life can return to some semblance of normal.
By now it sounds like a broken record. When outside, practice social distancing and keep two meters apart.
That’s the length of one tiger, or a park bench, or one Gordie Howe statue, according to the City of Saskatoon.
The distance is about the span from one hand to another, so if you can reach out and touch someone, you might want to take a step back. The city suggests even stepping into the street if it’s safe to do so to maintain space.
Along with social distancing, the city says it’s still important people wash their hands, avoid touching their face out in public and keep gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
“If you as a resident are planning to do something and when you get there it looks like it’s too busy, it looks like the grocery store is too busy, it looks like the business you’re going to visit is too busy, it looks like the dog park is too busy, make your own best choice, decide how to keep yourself safe,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Saskatoon’s director of emergency management.
Some walkways in the city are closed to help enforce these rules, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. The city has put up signs to reduce foot traffic to single lanes or one-way on tight paths.
It’s a pedestrian’s job to follow that — something they’re not always doing.
“Most people understand the rules, but of course there are so many examples we hear about where people for whatever reason aren’t following those,” said Saskatoon city manager Jeff Jorgenson.
For example, over the weekend Global News witnessed at least three people hop a boarded-up entrance to Saskatoon’s CP pedestrian bridge, despite signage saying it is closed. The city closed it in March over COVID-19 concerns.
Jorgenson said the city is now looking at an ambassador program, where city staff will go to parks to remind people of the rules in public, and help them understand what’s needed.
As for taking your kids to the park, that’s fine as long as they stay off play structures.
“Playgrounds and play structures have been identified as a site where COVID-19 can stay and then be transmitted and even be alive over the course of hours or days,” explained Mayor Charlie Clark.
One good thing: with the province’s plan to start reopening Saskatchewan, several outdoor activities are returning. Fishing and boat launches are allowed starting May 4, and golf courses will be allowed to open May 15 with physical distancing guidelines.
For now the city says it’s business as usual, or in this case, unusual.
It says things like play structures won’t reopen until we are further into the province’s plan to reopen parts of the economy.
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.
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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