Amidst increasing cases of COVID-19 in the Niagara Region, the City of St. Catharines has made the decision to close its playgrounds and limit use of its parks.
As of last week, all City-owned playground equipment is closed to the public and will remain that way for the near future. Prior to the official closure, the City had already posted signs on equipment warning that playgrounds are not sanitized and thus pose a transmission risk. Playground equipment has now been taped off and marked with signs to indicate the closure. Additionally, temporary fences are expected to be installed at public playgrounds throughout the course of the week.
The decision to close the equipment comes as the City works to honour its commitment to protect the health of its residents. Alongside public playgrounds, the skate park at Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre and all City-owned sports fields remain closed.
“We understand this is a difficult time for everyone and that parks and playgrounds provide an outlet for children, but right now we have to put their health, and that of the greater community first,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik. “No one is invincible and we all have a role to play to limit exposure to the virus. It is important that residents stay home as much as possible, including children.”
Though playgrounds and sports fields remain closed, all City parks are still open to the public for simple personal use, which includes running or walking. Residents are encouraged by City administrators to maintain safe physical separation to limit transmission of the virus. Individuals should remain two meters, or six feet, apart at all times.
Physical distancing, alongside regular hand washing, disinfecting of surfaces and abstaining from touching the face remain the most significant ways all members of the community can reduce the risk of the virus spreading to themselves and others.
The rise in COVID-19 cases in Niagara reflects the growing numbers across Ontario, which prompted Premier Doug Ford to limit the size of gatherings during the pandemic to five people at any one time.
Currently, the number of confirmed cases in the Niagara Region is just over 20 with numbers being updated on a daily basis. As of March 30, at least one person has died from the virus in the region. There are over 1,350 confirmed cases in Ontario and a total of approximately 6,300 cases across Canada.
Numbers change across the country on a daily basis and information quickly gets outdated. As such, residents are encouraged to engage with credible local and national news sources regularly to receive the most current updates on the pandemic.
For more information on City closures, service disruptions and delivery of essential services visit www.stcatharines.ca/COVID19. For more information on COVID-19 and related public health information visit www.niagararegion.ca/COVID19.