On May 6, the City relaxed some of its park regulations to give you and your family the ability to enjoy some of our park’s green space, to get some fresh air, go for a stroll, get some exercise or just sit back and relax on the grass, blanket, or your own lawn chair.
While we are seeing some positive trends in slowing the spread of the virus, we are still under the Province’s state-of-emergency orders. We cannot fully open our parks, but allowing some activities and access to our green space provides some welcome relief for everyone to enjoy the outdoors.
As this is a partial opening of City-owned parks, many of you have some questions. We are hoping to answer some of them to help make things a little clearer.
Isn’t the soccer and football field part of our park’s green space? Can we kick the ball around there?
We understand it is confusing. Many of our parks have soccer and football fields that blend right into the park’s landscape. However, the Provincial Emergency Orders specifically direct the closure of all sports fields to the public – like soccer, baseball and football fields. Sports fields are the areas of the park set aside to play specific sports and can generally be recognized by the improvement like baseball backstops and in-fields, soccer goal and football uprights.
The green and open spaces you are allowed to use are any grassy areas and paths that are away from the sports field area. These locations are where you can let the kids run, kick or toss a ball around, sit on the grass, a blanket, or your own lawn chair, and do some exercise and stretching on a yoga mat or grass. You are only allowed to do these activities with household members or with five or less people from outside your current household, however we strongly encourage you to only do them with members of your household.
Can we have an impromptu exercise or yoga class on the green space with friends and neighbours?
Yes, provided your group is no more than five people, and that you maintain the two-meter distance from the other participants.
Ottawa Public Health continues to advise that limiting activities to members of your own household remains important to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, and that physical distancing of at least two metres from non-household members should be maintained.
I enjoy sitting in the park and reading, but I don’t want to sit on a blanket or the grass. Can I use a park bench?
The Emergency Provincial Order that prohibits the use of sports fields and courts and also states that you cannot use any park amenities or equipment – which includes all park benches.
There is a health reason behind the prohibition. Park benches are touched frequently by many people and are not cleaned or sanitized regularly. The virus can survive on outdoor surfaces for hours and days. So, it places you in position where you could catch more than just some fresh air, rays and a few chapters. If you don’t like sitting on the grass or a blanket, you can bring a lawn chair or pop-up chair.