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As Halifax works to reopen more than 900 parks, sports courts will remain closed

File - A park closed sign in Halifax, N.S., on April 7, 2020. .
File - A park closed sign in Halifax, N.S., on April 7, 2020. . Alexander Quon/Global News

Halifax is asking for residents to be patient as staff work to reopen more than 900 parks and 425 km of trails in order to comply with Nova Scotia’s decision to relax coronavirus public safety measures.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang announced on Friday that Nova Scotia would immediately reopen provincial and municipal parks.

McNeil said the decision was made, at least in part, as a result of the series of tragedies that have struck Nova Scotia over the past month, including the mass shooting in Portapique and the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crash in Greece.

“We know that getting outdoors for recreation is important for people’s physical and mental health,” said McNeil.

READ MORE: Province relaxes COVID-19 restrictions to allow Nova Scotians to get outdoors

In a press release, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) says it immediately began opening parks in response to the province’s directions but that it will take some time for the work to be complete.

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“Staff are working quickly to remove all barricades, locks and gates from parks to adjust to these changes,” the statement read.

All beaches and playgrounds in the HRM will remain closed in order to comply with Nova Scotia’s new directions.

Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia opens parks, trails, and community gardens starting Friday
Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia opens parks, trails, and community gardens starting Friday

However, the municipality said it will not be able to open its sports parks, breaking with the province’s decision.

“The municipality is not in a position to open these facilities at this time,” read the statement.

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There was no reason given for why sports courts could not reopen this weekend.

Halifax to lay off 1480 casual, seasonal employees
Halifax to lay off 1480 casual, seasonal employees

In April, the municipality did lay off 1,480 casual, temporary and seasonal workers, the majority of which were located in the HRM’s parks and recreation department.

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The municipality said it will provide more details on their decision next week.

READ MORE: Pipers unite in support of province after helicopter crash, shooting tragedies

Halifax Regional Police have issued a statement reminding residents that they are still able and willing to hand out tickets to those who break COVID-19 restrictions still in effect.

“People must continue to keep 2 metres apart and not gather in groups of more than [five],” police said in a tweet.

The HRM is asking that families stay within their own communities if they choose to visit parks and greenspaces.

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

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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