In response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ontario is extending the Declaration of Emergency and associated emergency measures, including the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. In addition, Ontario is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, expanding required closures to include all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately.
“I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus,” said Premier Ford. “Based on the best medical advice available, we are taking further steps today to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians by closing outdoor recreational amenities, like sports fields and playgrounds, and extending our emergency orders to save lives. We all need to work together and do our part to stop COVID-19 by staying home, practising physical distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”
The new order closes all communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario, including but not limited to playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters, outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens, and other outdoor recreational amenities. Green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that aren’t otherwise closed would remain open for walkthrough access, but individuals must maintain the safe physical distance of at least two metres apart from others. Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed.
“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We will continue to take decisive action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect Ontarians’ health and wellbeing.”
“The health and well-being of Ontarians is a top priority of our government as we navigate through the COVID-19 health crisis. I know our municipal partners are already taking action locally to protect their residents,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This order makes the rules around closing shared outdoor recreational amenities consistent across the province.”
The declaration of a provincial emergency, originally declared on March 17, 2020 will be in effect until at least April 13, along with the following measures:
- Closure of public places and establishments with exemption for emergency child care for health care and frontline essential service workers
- Prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people
- Enforcement of emergency orders
- Work deployment for health service providers
- Work deployment for long-term care homes
- Electronic service of documents
- Electricity pricing
- Drinking water and sewage
- Closure of non-essential workplaces
- Traffic management
- Prohibiting unconscionable pricing for necessary goods
- Streamlining requirements for long-term care homes
The provincial declaration largely mirrors, on a provincial level, the declaration of a State Of Emergency previously put in place by Kingston mayor Bryan Paterson, which closed all public playgrounds and parks in the city.