Saskatoon sending ‘ambassadors’ to monitor city parks as province sets to reopen

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Warm weather in Saskatchewan doesn’t mean easing up on social distancing' Coronavirus: Warm weather in Saskatchewan doesn’t mean easing up on social distancing
WATCH: With warmer weather bringing people at home outdoors, COVID-19 has changed what that stroll through the park looks like. Here's how to maintain social distancing while getting some fresh air – Apr 27, 2020

Starting next week, the City of Saskatoon is sending “ambassadors” to parks to help encourage physical distancing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It follows the city’s message: even with Phase 1 of the plan to reopen Saskatchewan’s economy set to start May 4, that doesn’t mean life is back to normal.

“The goal is just to get those eyes on the parks and make sure that the things that are in place need to be in place,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the city’s director of emergency management, during a virtual press conference Friday.

“And to do any quick reminders [around the rules] we can do in a friendly and educational way with residents.”
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READ MORE: Warm weather in Saskatchewan doesn’t mean easing up on social distancing

These ambassadors will check each of the over 200 parks in Saskatoon once a week, making sure signs and barriers are still in place, and replace them and other supplies as needed.

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They’ll also remind people of rules, including that organized sports or games with groups of people are still not allowed.

Saskatoon police said it has received 286 calls about noncompliance, mainly around public and private gatherings of more than 10, people not complying with public health orders to self-isolate, and businesses not following rules.

Of those 286 calls, police attended fewer than half.

Saskatoon police said at many calls, members found people and businesses were not in fact breaking rules. It said public awareness is the best tool in this situation.

No tickets have been issued.

“We are not suggesting that we are not going to lay charges,” said Supt. Randy Huisman.

“If somebody does not want to abide by our advice and we’re back then we’ll issue tickets.”

One bright side: some outdoor areas are reopening beginning May 4, the first day of phase one of the province’s plan to reopen the economy.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Saskatchewan golf courses will have new rules when they open

Cranberry Flats Conservation Area closed due to the pandemic. It will reopen Monday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Washrooms will remain closed.

“If you’re not out and you’re not being mindful of the time your vehicle will be locked in,” said Andrea Lafond, CEO of the Meewasin Valley Authority which oversees the river valley.

The Fred Heal and the Poplar Bluffs Canoe Launches will open, along with water access and hiking trails at Paradise Beach.

The Beaver Creek Conservation Area will not reopen. A reopening dating has not yet been determined.

The authority urges residents to maintain social distancing while visiting these areas.

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.

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