Public playgrounds closed, Edmontonians begged to take COVID-19 precautions seriously
EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton is closing more than 400 public outdoor playgrounds in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“With schools closed, we understand this will be disappointing news for some families and children but the reason we’re doing this is to contain the spread ofCOVID-19. The hard surfaces of playground equipment are not clean, so there is risk of virus transmission from them," Adam Laughlin, interim city manager, announced Tuesday afternoon.
He also said the city would not be opening its spray parks according to their regular seasonal scheduling, that sledding hills would be closed, and that Edmonton would discontinue cross-country ski trail maintenance.
Additionally, effective Wednesday, Edmonton’s 747 transit route would no longer be taking travelers from Edmonton International Airport or to it from the Century Park station. Instead, the route will act as a charter service for employees at the airport or nearby businesses.
Parks and river access remain open, but Laughlin pleaded for city residents to respect the precautions they are advised to take, like physical distancing.
“Unfortunately it seems like some Edmontonians just aren’t getting the message about this… If you choose to go outside, please ensure you have two metres or six feet between yourself and others. This applies to absolutely everyone.”
City officials will be posting signage about the changes to public space access, and cordoning off playground equipment.
But the city won’t be taking further enforcement action other than monitoring.
“First step is the closure. Next step is to monitor. Then if we’re seeing folks aren’t following that, then we take future steps.”
Under its local state of emergency, Edmonton would be able to implement stricter enforcement action, like fines or police coordination.
It is also able to put the city into lockdown mode, but Laughlin said Edmonton is not there yet – and would be acting in line with the province’s direction if it were to do so.
The city last issued an update on Friday, declaring a local state of emergency in response to COVID-19.
Since then, Alberta’s total number of cases has risen from 195 to 358 as of Tuesday afternoon, and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson has entered self-isolation after developing “mild symptoms.”