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COVID-19: Ottawa opening splash pads ahead of long weekend, kids not required to wear masks

The City of Ottawa is reopening splash pads for summer 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Ottawa is opening splash pads in the city this coming weekend, with health officials satisfied the cool-down sites won’t clash with restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Vera Etches, the city’s medical officer of health, said in a press conference Wednesday that Ottawa Public Health has been looking at the question of splash pads and determined they’re similar to playgrounds when it comes to exemptions to open under Ontario’s stay-at-home order.

Read more: Ottawa COVID-19 levels rebound with 107 new cases, positivity rate up

Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower said on Twitter that splash pads in his ward will be open by Friday afternoon. Global News has reached out to the city to confirm if the same timing is expected for all wards in the city.

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Etches added that her section 22 order mandating mask wearing around playground equipment and other outdoor recreational amenities will not apply to kids using splash pads.

“We certainly understand a mask is no use when it’s wet. So we’ll have to take a practical approach there where we don’t expect children to wear masks at splash pads,” she said, adding that kids from different households should still distance themselves from each other.

That section 22 order expires on May 25 and is “not likely to be renewed,” Etches said Wednesday, amid declining COVID-19 levels in Ottawa.

OPH will continue to recommend wearing masks anytime someone is at risk of coming into close contact with another person, even outdoors, she said.

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