For general information and resources on COVID-19, visit https://healthunit.org/coronavirus/.
Parks and other outdoor spaces are important for maintaining and improving physical, mental, and social well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these spaces were closed for public use. Now that more parks and outdoor spaces are opening, there are important considerations municipalities must take to help protect the health of their staff and residents.
- Abide by Emergency Provincial orders (e.g., closures of certain outdoor recreational amenities, restrictions on public and private gatherings, etc.).
- Be aware of what amenities, services, and businesses can reopen in each stage of the Province of Ontario’s Re-opening Ontario strategy.
- Follow best practice guidance from the Government of Ontario, Government of Canada, and your local Public Health Unit.
- Share with your residents what activities are currently permitted on public and private property (e.g., hiking on trails, golf, tennis, dog parks, community gardens, splash pads, pools, etc.).
- Community gardens are allowed to be open. Note the two sets of guidelines: Safe Operating Requirements for Community Gardens for landowners and garden coordinators and Public Health Guidelines for All Community Gardeners.
- Ensure farmers’ markets on municipal land are aware of Health Unit guidelines.
- Educate residents on how they can reduce their risks while engaging in permitted activities.
- Post signage in parks and recreation areas reminding users of these facilities about measures they can take to protect themselves and others. (e.g., Protect Yourself and Those Around You Poster).
- Encourage residents, when outdoors in public, to have a cloth face covering/mask with them so they can put it on when they are potentially in close contact with other people. NOTE: As of July 7, 2020 at 12:01am, businesses/organizations in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark are required to adopt a policy to ensure facial coverings/masks are worn inside enclosed public spaces/settings that are openly accessible to the public. To access an enclosed public space, individuals must wear a facial covering/mask (some exceptions apply). Please refer to our Face Coverings/Masks webpage for detailed information.
- Keep all information up-to-date on your website and social media.
- Refer to our Physical Activity section at https://healthunit.org/coronavirus/ for guidance on the use of parks and other outdoor recreation spaces by the public.
- As public bathrooms open, follow our guidance on cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms.
- Consider providing hand wash stations or alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers, especially if public bathrooms have been closed.
- For local information on who to call if you have a concern or complaint see the COVID-19 Response Chart.
- Maximize distance and minimize interaction between park users. Increase available pedestrian and cycling space to encourage people to spread out.
- Consider temporarily converting some spaces (e.g., parking lots) to pedestrian space.
- Consider creating temporary “health corridors” along busy streets where physical distancing may become difficult. Corridors can be created by placing pylons or installing temporary bollards to block off a lane of traffic or on-street parking spots. Refer to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) guidance document on Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery for more ideas.
- As you open up your parks and other outdoor spaces for greater use, refer to the Government of Ontario’s sector-specific guidelines and Health Canada’s risk mitigation tool for guidance on reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Visit our COVID-19 & Businesses webpage for information for employers, employees, and members of the public accessing businesses/organizations.
Refer to the Phase 2: Information for Businesses Re-opening section on our COVID-19 & Businesses webpage for more information and guidance on opening and operating a summer day camp during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Refer to the Phase 2: Information for Businesses Re-opening section on our COVID-19 & Businesses webpage for more information and guidance on opening and operating pools, splash pads, and wading pools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Refer to our Health Equity and COVID-19 webpage for more information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has added to existing health inequities in our communities and how municipalities can help improve these inequities.