Peel Region’s top doctor says he wouldn’t recommend reopening outdoor recreational activities right now in order to avoid mixed messaging, as the province is under a stay-at-home order amid a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh says he would not call on the provincial government to reverse its decision about closing golf courses, basketball courts and other outdoor amenities as the Region of Peel continues to see heightened coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
“At this time, however, I think calling for reopening is a bit challenging in my position because as I’ve said we are still not yet out of this very severe third wave and I think to the degree that we’re trying to really get people to understand essential meetings, essential purposes only and always with precautions,” Loh said during Brampton’s weekly COVID-19 press conference Wednesday morning.
It’s about to be May. It’s getting warmer across Canada.
This usually means several things: Patio season. Outdoor sports. Backyard gatherings with friends.
And yet, depending on where you reside in Canada, some or all of these things may be against the law.
For the second summer in a row, Canadians stand to be denied, well, a summer.
While many Canadians embrace the winter there are just as many others who do not and look forward to the summer as a welcomed — albeit much too short — reprieve from the cold weather.
How should Canadians deal with this inherent contradiction that many are faced with? Yes, we want summer activities. No, many such activities are not allowed — or at least not allowed to the degree we may wish.
BySaba Aziz Global News Posted April 20, 2021 7:00 am Updated April 20, 2021 11:13 am
In an effort to stem the tide of COVID-19, a blanket ban on outdoor recreational activities in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, has raised some questions about outdoor transmission.
Under tightened new restrictions that went into effect Saturday, Ontario ordered the closure of outdoor sporting facilities, multi-use fields and portions of parks or recreational areas containing outdoor fitness equipment. Picnic sites and tables were also closed.
But experts argue that the risk of COVID-19 spreading outdoors when compared to indoor activities is much lower.
“You know, you’re taking away the safe options from people as you do nothing to impact the places where the disease is spreading at a time when our ICUs (intensive care units) are literally collapsing,” Dr. David Fisman, a professor at the University of Toronto and member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said.
Wearing masks has been a part of life for a year, but there’s a growing debate over whether they’re actually needed outdoors. Some argue that the constantly circulating air currents outdoors make mask-wearing outside unnecessary for preventing the spread of COVID-19 when you’re not in crowds, while others say there’s still a risk whenever you’re in the same vicinity as others.
Some countries and states are already loosening regulations on outdoor masking, fueling the debate. On Sunday, Israel dropped its outdoor mask requirement after COVID-19 cases went down significantly. Some 81 percent of eligible adults in the country are fully vaccinated. A growing number of states in the U.S. are also lifting mask mandates, leaving people in places like Colorado, Montana and Texas free to make their own decisions about masking up in public areas.
That raises a question: If given the choice, what should you be doing when it comes to mask etiquette outdoors?
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings and “anywhere they will be around other people.” Masks are also required outdoors (and indoors) in 26 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
But infectious disease doctors say that local regulations aside, you don’t necessarily need to wear a mask in every situation when you’re outdoors. “Outdoor masking in most ordinary circumstances is not going to provide extraordinary value,” infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life. “If you’re in a crowd where people can’t social distance, masks make sense. But in ordinary outdoor environments, there’s not much value to it.”
According to the provincial government, the new measures are intended to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases as the third wave of the pandemic continues.
All of that means there are new limits on what residents can and cannot do. Here are some answers to questions you might have.
Can I go for a walk?
Yes. In its regulations, the government says: “An outdoor recreational amenity that is a park or recreational area may be open for the purposes of permitting persons to walk through the park or recreational area.”
Can I go for a walk with a friend?
This question is trickier.
The government says in its regulations that any person who uses outdoor parks and recreational areas, off-leash dog areas, or benches in parks and recreational areas “shall maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person who is also using the amenity, other than a person who is a member of the same household, a member of one other household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of either household.”
Can I gather with people outside of my household?
No, unless you live alone, and then you can gather with only one other household. The province said in a news release on Friday that it has prohibited “all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household.”
Can I take my dog to an off-leash park?
Yes. But you have to maintain a two-metre distance from anyone who is not a member of your household and who is not a caregiver of a member of your household.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based at Toronto General Hospital, said Saturday that the province should be encouraging people to go outside. Bogoch is also a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force.
“It’s good for physical health. It’s good for mental health, especially with all the other horrible things that are going on in the middle of the third wave. Being outdoors is probably one of the best things you can do,” Bogoch said.
“It’s pretty clear that the outdoors is probably the safest place you could be during the course of the pandemic. We know that the risk of transmission outdoors is not zero per cent, but it’s getting close. It’s really, really low risk.”
The now-amended rules around playground use resulted in a tense situation for one Ottawa woman, who told CBC News she was threatened with a call to the police on Saturday morning by a stranger.
Simmi Dixit said she was walking through a park with her partner and young daughter when a man said he’d call the police on them because they were not allowed to be there. Dixit said they were not touching any outdoor amenities when they were confronted.
“People are at a point where they’re starting to emotionally break,” Dixit told CBC News.
“I think the narrative of fear that we’re hearing around COVID is affecting the way people judge themselves in these situations. We’re perceiving each other as threats instead of looking to each other for strength and support.”
Can I play golf on a golf course?
Can I play tennis and basketball at a court?
No. And you cannot use any amenities such as those for platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts.
Can I play baseball at a diamond?
Can I enjoy a skate park or a BMX park?
No. And you can’t play Frisbee golf at such a location either.
Can I have a picnic at a picnic table?
No, you can’t. A picnic table is considered an outdoor amenity.
Hoping you would be able to attend this important webinar! As we all deal with aspects of COVID-19, an understanding of its impacts on trails and trail use should help all of us plan and manage our trails throughout this pandemic.
Jake Musgrave wants to raise awareness, funds for COVID-19 and leukemia research
a day ago By: Ben Bengtson
Jake Musgrave knows what it’s like to lose somebody close to you. Now, as a pandemic threatens people’s well-being the world over, he’s raising awareness and money so others don’t have to go through a similarly heartbreaking experience.
At the end of August Musgrave plans to bike across Canada, from Horseshoe Bay to Halifax, to raise money for leukemia research – as well as those impacted by COVID-19.
Musgrave, a lifelong North Vancouver resident, lost his dad, Randy, to leukemia when he was just eight years old.
OTTAWA – Canada’s top doctor is encouraging Canadians to use face masks more frequently–not just when you’re in crowded indoor spaces.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says physical distancing is still the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But with more and more Canadians taking advantage of the summer weather–hitting hiking trails, camping, or heading to the cabin or cottage–Tam says physical distancing might not always be all that practical.
When Torontonians were spotted crowding beaches this past weekend, the public shaming followed. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the photos that came out of Cherry Beach looked more like South Beach, Florida.
“And you’ve seen what happened down in Florida,” said Ford during a Monday briefing. “There [were] 4,000 cases in one day the other day.
Before the pandemic, Canadian children were barely getting a passing grade for overall physical activity and sedentary behaviours.
Restrictions from the COVID-19 crisis have made things even worse, according to numbers released Wednesday by Participaction.
The report card gave children and youths a D-plus for overall physical activity and a D-plus for sedentary behaviours, according to a two-year stretch of research and data analysis through February 2020.
“This report card confirms that children and youth in Canada are not as active as they should be and have too much screen time,” said Participaction scientist Dr. Mark Tremblay.