Playgrounds will remain open in Ontario, but residents are still warned of the risks.

Last Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced playgrounds and outdoor recreational amenities like golf courses, skate parks, basketball courts and soccer fields would be closed, as part of the provincial border checkpoints and extension of the stay-at-home order announcements.

By Saturday morning, Ford and his government reversed their decision on playgrounds following immediate backlash and an online petition against the move, as detractors said outdoor areas are known to be safer than indoor settings. However, other outdoor amenities will remain closed. 

“Risk of outdoor COVID-19 transmission is tiny,” responded Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who sits on Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force.

“Outdoor activities are vital for mental and physical health, especially with stay-at-home orders. Science is clear: outdoor COVID-19 transmission is extremely rare. If you can’t separate by 2 meters, put on a mask. Simple.”

Medical Officer of Health with the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, says staff have reported spread of COVID-19 in outdoor settings in our region, but she stressed it was due to those residents not following other ongoing public health guidelines.

“Yes, it can happen outdoors. But it would be in a scenario where people are not following public health measures. They’re not maintaining the two-meter distance, they might be unwell, or they’re not wearing masks,” she explained during a virtual conference with regional media earlier this week.

“In general, we are encouraging people to continue to exercise and you can continue to go outside, but it’s very important to maintain that two-meter distance from anyone outside of your household.”

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in contact with a positive case of the virus is asked to immediately self-isolate, get tested and remain in isolation until your test results are known.