Ottawa Public Health considers capacity limits, mandatory masks for park amenities this summer
OTTAWA -- New rules for gathering limits and mandatory masks at summer amenities in city of Ottawa parks could be in place by this weekend as the city looks to limit COVID-19 transmission.
Associate medical officer of health Dr. Brent Moloughney told Councillors and the media that Ottawa Public Health is working on a Section 22 Class Order to implement new rules for summer outdoor recreational amenities.
"One of the things that we're seeing is a lack of distancing and a lack of mask use in parks, particularly on and around certain amenities," said Dr. Moloughney.
Dr. Moloughney says while parks are important for our mental and physical health, there have been issues in parks during the stay-at-home order.
"We also have to balance that with the fact that we're in the biggest resurgence that we've ever experienced."
On Wednesday, city staff said councillors will be able to decide when parks in their wards close during the province's stay-at-home order. The move came after Mayor Jim Watson proposed an 8 p.m. curfew to address large gatherings and rowdy behaviour in parks.
Ottawa Public Health has reported more than 300 cases of COVID-19 four of the past five days.
Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches issued a Section 22 Class Order in the winter to limit the number of people on outdoor skating rinks and gathering spots at tobogganing hills and cross-country ski trails.
Councillor Diane Deans asked Dr. Moloughney for more details on the potential measures Ottawa Public Health is considering for the Section 22 Class Order covering park amenities.
Dr. Moloughney said Ottawa Public Health is looking at capacity limits for areas where there have been complaints about gatherings.
"Places that we're talking about is basketball courts and skate parks," said Dr. Moloughney, adding rules could be in place for the areas where people congregate around the courts and parks.
"We're looking at which amenities that we're going to have capacity limits, and then which amenities as well to use them, that you'll be required to wear a mask."
The new rules for summer recreational amenities will be issued by the weekend.
Dr. Moloughney said possible rules for splash pads and pools will be considered at a later date.