Saanich playgrounds remain empty after being closed to the public on March 20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The municipality closed playgrounds after receiving complaints from residents that some playground users were not practising physical distancing, explained Megan Catalano, information officer for the Saanich Emergency Operations Centre (EOC).
Warning signs were posted throughout playgrounds to indicate the closure, but on March 20, Saanich resident Shayla Pready shot a video of parents and kids still playing on the Cadboro-Gyro Park playground. She posted the video to social media and it had been viewed more than 100,000 times on Facebook in just a few days.
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes also saw the video and was concerned about residents’ safety.
“Surfaces can keep the virus active for many hours,” and as it’s tough to keep children from touching their faces, those using a playground after someone with the virus had been there could become ill, Haynes told Black Press Media at the time.
He directed municipal staff to take action. On the morning of March 23, Saanich staff were sent out to tape off and, in some cases, lock up equipment at the District’s nearly 70 playgrounds.
Since then, the community has been respecting the playground closures “and doing their part to abide by the guidelines set out by the Provincial Health Office,” said EOC information officer Kelsie McLeod. “We would like to thank the community for their efforts and encourage everyone to keep up the great work.”
She added that Saanich is monitoring advice from the province and will reopen the playground facilities when it’s safe to do so. For now, the structures sit empty, tied off with caution tape, until play can resume.
-With files from Nina Grossman.