The District of Saanich has decided to close down public playgrounds until further notice as COVID-19 spreads. (Black Press Media file photo)

UPDATED: Playgrounds across the South Island close as COVID-19 spreads

Saanich closure follows complaints that some park-users weren’t practicing social distancing

Playgrounds across the region have been temporarily closed to the public in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Effective March 20, all playgrounds in Saanich parks or at Saanich recreation facilities were closed to the public until further notice although parks, fields, trails, open spaces and public washrooms will remain open.

The municipality made the decision to close the playgrounds “in response to public concerns that some playground users are not practicing social distancing as directed by B.C.’s provincial health officer,” explained Megan Catalano, information officer for the Saanich Emergency Operations Centre, in a written statement.

READ ALSO: Mayor encourages residents to take advantage of Saanich trails amid COVID-19

Social distancing includes remaining at least two metres – about the length of a queen-sized bed – away from others while out of the home even if you’re not ill, Catalano said.

Social distancing can be practiced by limiting outdoor activities, avoiding large social gatherings and practicing proper cough etiquette and handwashing. Saanich is asking parents to explain social distancing to their children and enforce the guidelines.

All playgrounds in the Capital Regional District and in the Town of Sidney have also been closed for the foreseeable future, though public parks remain open. The City of Victoria announced its decision to close playgrounds Friday afternoon. Signage will be installed at Victoria’s 40 playgrounds. Public washrooms in parks remain open with increased cleaning.

Colwood also announced that its playground structures in city parks will be closed. The City says playground structures and picnic tables cannot be effectively cleaned after each use. Structures at Colwood Creek Park, Ocean View Park, Herm Williams Park, Pelican Drive and Coleman Place will be closed.

READ ALSO: Saanich amps up COVID-19 precautions, closes all major facilities to the public

On March 21, the City of Langford and the Greater Victoria School District also made the decision to close their playgrounds to protect residents and minimize the spread of the virus. Municipal parks and trails will remain open and residents are asked to maintain a safe distance from one another.

Families are still encouraged to enjoy the parks and trails throughout the region while avoiding groups and maintaining a safe social distance. Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes is inviting residents to get outside and enjoy the spring weather from a safe distance in the District’s many parks that feature open spaces and trails.

Haynes himself marked the first day of spring – March 19 – with a walk in Saanich’s Brydon Park with his seven-year-old labradoodle Beowolf.

Visit saanich.ca/COVID-19 for up to date information about how Saanich is managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

–With files from Sarah Schuchard.


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