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City of Kingston emergency order requires physical distancing at City parks

A number of young adults gathered at Breakwater Park and Gord Edgar Downie Pier on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, and on the days that followed, prompting both the City of Kingston and KFL&A Public Health to issue notices. Photo by Samantha Butler-Hassan

Update:

In response to the question of the what defines a household, as stated in the Order, the City of Kingston provides additional clarification in regards to the details of implementation of the Order. It  will not apply to:

  • persons who are members of a single household, members of the same family or otherwise in a group of ten persons or less socially distanced by two meters from others.

Original article:

On Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, the City of Kingston issued a press release giving notice of an emergency order issued to ensure physical distancing at City parks.

According to the City, Mayor Bryan Paterson has taken these additional steps to help address potential COVID-19 risks in Kingston, and did so in “close collaboration” with Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health.

“Pursuant to Bylaw Number 2020-068, a By-law for the Provision and Enforcement of Orders during a Declared Emergency, Mayor Paterson has issued an emergency order, effective September 4, to ensure that physical distancing is being followed in all City Parks,” the City said in the release.

Under this order, residents must maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from all other persons while in a City park. Additionally, a curfew is being enforced at Gord Edgar Downie Pier, Breakwater Park, and the adjacent areas. Those areas will now only be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

“Recurring situations in City Parks where individuals are not practicing physical distancing present an increased risk of COVID-19 community transmission,” Paterson said in a statement. “This is an important step to ensure that health regulations and recommendations are being followed for the community’s wellbeing.”

In the week leading up to this order, large gatherings of young people were observed numerous times at Breakwater Park and Gord Edgar Downie Pier, including the one pictured below on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. The order also comes on the same day Dr. Moore issued a statement regarding his concerns about large gatherings of young people in Kingston.

The City outlined that this emergency order applies to all of the City-owned and administrated parks, including elements such as playing fields, play structures, and community recreation and leisure facilities. The City is posting signage in areas where the order is in effect.

The physical distancing requirements in the City parks do not apply to:

  • Children under 16 who are with their parents
  • Individuals who are members of the same household
  • Situations where physical distancing may not be possible for the purposes of using a public washroom
  • Situations where physical distancing is not possible due to health and safety requirements

The City clarified that residents will still be able to walk through and use portions of any park that are not otherwise closed, and can still use amenities in parks such as playing fields and play structures.

Mayor Paterson declared a state of emergency on Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Under the subsequent bylaw (Bylaw 2020-068), the head of City Council (Mayor Paterson) can make orders that are believe to be necessary and essential under the circumstances to prevent or mitigate harm to individuals, the City said.

Failure to comply with this order can result in a fine of $500 under the City’s Administrative Monetary Penalties – this now applies to those who fail to maintain physical distancing while in City-owned parks. Any fines issued through the Administrative Monetary Penalties can be paid or appealed directly through the City of Kingston. Find out more about Kingston’s Administrative Monetary Penalties here.

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