The city of Kingston has announced it will close Breakwater Park, along the waterfront, to prevent overcrowding. The moves comes following an announcement by KFL&A Public Health yesterday about an outbreak of COVID-19 in the adjacent university district.
“I have issued an emergency order to close Breakwater Park effective today for a 10-day period. This timeline coincides with students move-out, but can be extended if needed. As one of our most popular community parks, closing it is a last resort,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson.
As of Thursday, the new Queen’s outbreak involves 70 active cases found in young adults aged 18 to 29. Infections linked to the outbreak currently make up more than 70 per cent of the active cases in the region, the health unit said.
Just as the news of the outbreak broke, hundreds of young people gathered at Breakwater Park Thursday afternoon to enjoy the warm weather. City bylaw did not ticket anyone, since they said all groups were less than five, and people still have the right to use recreational spaces for exercise.
In a statement released to Twitter Friday, Paterson said that it is difficult for bylaw officers to lay fines in circumstances like the one seen at Breakwater Thursday afternoon.
“When a bylaw officer approached groups that are larger than 5, they report it is very easy for people to quickly move around or disperse. Enforcement can be challenging in groups of that size,” Paterson said.
The beach at Breakwater Park was closed in March to curb such gatherings. Friday, Paterson decided to take the closure one step further.
“Yesterday, however, we saw troubling instances of overcrowding, which is especially concerning given the current outbreak in the nearby university district,” he said.
The emergency order to close the park for a 10-day period will be in effect as of 4 p.m. Friday, which will coincide with the university’s move-out day.
At noon Friday, city staff could be seen in the park erecting fencing to close the north, east, and west boundaries of Breakwater Park, which runs along King Street between Lower University Avenue and Beverley Street.
According to the city, bylaw enforcement officers and Kingston Police will be closely monitoring other parks un proximity to the university district. Anyone using Breakwater Park, even alone, is now subject to fines.
Those who fail to maintain physical distancing in any city park — and those who enter the closed area of Breakwater Park — can be issued a $2,060 penalty notice for failure to comply with an emergency order.View link »