Coronavirus: Playgrounds not yet off-limits in Kingston after Belleville announces closure

Playgrounds are off-limits in many parts of the country, including Belleville, Ont., as the community looks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Mayor Mitch Panciuk says Belleville city staff initiated the closures on Monday after consulting with Hasting Prince Edward Public Health.

“We don’t have the ability to properly sanitize playground equipment, and we believe this decision will protect everyone, not only children,” said Panciuk via Skype.

Panciuk told Global News on Wednesday that the decision wasn’t easy, as many families in the area are cooped up in their homes with small children as they self-isolate.

“We encourage people to go outside to walk and to exercise and enjoy the fresh air,” said Panciuk, adding, “I know this is difficult for parents but we need to work together.”

The City released a list of swing set locations that will either be removed or wrapped around the top rail and secured to prevent access.

The list includes Alemite Park, Bird Park Boyd Park, Canniff Park, Churchill Heights Park and Parkdale Park.

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The City of Belleville’s website has a complete list of closures.

The City of Kingston and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health has yet to shut down parks and playgrounds but the medical officer of health for the area, Dr. Kieran Moore, is urging parents to use precaution before entering a public jungle gym.

“Closing playgrounds is one of the tools in our in our war chest to be able to prevent a community spread, and that may be something we have to use sooner than later,” said Dr. Kieran Moore via Skype.

Dr. Moore said on Tuesday that COVID-19 can live on metal surfaces for up to 24 hours under certain temperatures.

Due to this, the City and public health have placed signs at each Kingston area park telling users that the equipment is not sanitized and to use it at your own risk.

“We don’t want areas where families could mix to be a source of infections to others,” said Dr. Moore.

The sign also reads that if you’re sick, stay home, wash your hands with soap or use sanitizer, don’t touch surfaces, and practice social distancing.

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