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Some outdoor amenities opening back up in London, Ont., city says

FILE.
FILE. AleksandarNakic via Getty Images

London, Ont., sports fields, baseball diamonds, and dog and skate parks are among the outdoor amenities being reopened for public use by the city, albeit with new coronavirus pandemic-related health measures and precautions.

The change comes days after the province implemented stage one of its three-stage reopening framework, and extended emergency orders until the end of the month.

READ MORE: COVID-19 costs London, Ont. more than $1M in direct emergency costs to date: report

City officials stress that gatherings of more than five people who are not from the same household are still barred under provincial orders, and that social distancing guidelines still apply.

In a statement, Mayor Ed Holder said Londoners are being counted on to abide by pandemic health guidelines to ensure the spaces are safe for everyone.

“We know residents are excited to get some fresh air and exercise and we appreciate their patience as City staff work to get all of these park amenities open,” he said.

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According to the city, the following amenities have reopened as of Thursday:

  • Outdoor sports fields, baseball diamonds, and basketball courts for non-team sports that allow physical distancing;
  • Skate parks, disc golf, benches, picnic tables, and park shelters, provided that physical distancing of at least two metres is maintained and that residents be aware the amenities are not sanitized and people using them should wash or sanitize their hands afterward;
  • Off-leash dog parks, provided that residents engage in physical distancing and other necessary health measures, like sneezing or coughing into a sleeve, elbow, or disposable tissue, and washing hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
COVID-19: Some provinces begin reopening
COVID-19: Some provinces begin reopening

Tennis and pickleball courts are also being reopened as part of the plan, but some may not be ready for use until the end of the week as staff are in the process of installing nets, the city says.

Londoners visiting parks are now also permitted to kick a ball or play catch, to sit on a picnic blanket, the grass, or a lawn chair, to fly a kite, and to exercise or stretch on a yoga mat.

READ MORE: May 15: Golf courses in London Ont. ready to reopen for Victoria Day long weekend

Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, outdoor pools, spray pads, wading pools, premier irrigated sports fields, and indoor facilities will remain closed until further notice due to provincial orders, the city says.

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The city closed outside play structures on March 23, along with skate parks, multi-use courts, city sports fields, golf courses, and community gardens in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus.

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City-owned golf courses reopened to the public on Saturday, with the exception of River Road Golf Course, which the city says will remain closed until further notice.

Golfers and boaters seem to comply with new Ontario COVID-19 rules
Golfers and boaters seem to comply with new Ontario COVID-19 rules

Those heading to a course will have to follow a new list of pandemic-related golfing policies and procedures before they tee off.

Community gardens also reopened on Saturday, but only to registered gardeners, who are also being asked to follow new guidelines.

READ MORE: 6 new coronavirus cases, 9 recoveries, 1 new outbreak in London-Middlesex: MLHU

Provincial leaders have indicated that each phase of the government’s reopening framework will last between two to four weeks to allow health officials to monitor the impact of each set of changes.

Regarding gathering size limits, the province said Tuesday that word on any “additional adjustments” to social gatherings, childcare and schools will come later and be informed by advice from Ontario’s top doctor.

London reported six new novel coronavirus cases on Thursday, along with nine recoveries and a newly declared outbreak.

Two of the cases were linked to seniors’ facilities, officials said.

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Health officials reported three new cases and four recoveries on Wednesday, and reported 11 new cases on Tuesday.

–With files from Global News’ Beatrice Britneff