Residents across Ontario looking to enjoy the sunshine will now have a few more options regarding activities as the province begins to ease restrictions on outdoor activities.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced details on May 20 as Ontario continues to see signs that point to the devastating third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to decline.
Under the new plan, restrictions will be eased gradually through the summer months based on vaccination rates and key public health and healthcare indicators.
Golf, tennis, basketball and other outdoor sports are set to reopen across the province as part of a three-step plan to gradually allow for more indoor and outdoor activities to resume by the end of summer. Additionally, limits on outdoor gatherings will be increased to five people.
The current stay-at-home order will remain in place until June 2, except for these newly-announced changes to some outdoor activities.
Ford said the changes are the result of current restrictions.
“These measures have worked. We are seeing increasingly positive trends in key public health indicators,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “I know there are people who want to move faster, but we can’t risk it,”
Since April 7, Ontario has been under a province-wide stay-at-home order due to the third wave of COVID-19, which resulted in record-high hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions.
All outdoor recreational spaces, except playgrounds, have been in a holding pattern since April 16. The province tightened up its stay-at-home order while the third wave of COVID-19 infections mounted, and hospitals dealt with an unprecedented surge of critical cases. Playgrounds were later kept open after public pressure.
Ford said he knows these measures came with a great price but said they have worked in keeping Ontarians safe.
“Collectively as Ontarians, we have saved thousands of lives, and that is thanks to your sacrifices,” said Ford. “We are not in a position to look at a slow and measured approach to reopen.”
As of May 22, the following outdoor activities can reopen if they follow select safety criteria:
• Parks and recreational areas
• Baseball diamonds
• Batting cages
• Soccer, football and sports fields
• Tennis courts
• Basketball courts
• BMX parks
• Skate parks
• Golf courses
• Frisbee golf
• Cycling tracks and bike trails
• Horse riding facilities
• Shooting ranges
• Ice rinks
• Boat and watercraft launches
• Archery ranges
• Lawn game courts.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News