Hamiltonians enjoy golf courses, trails and parks as city relaxes COVID-19 restrictions
Locals enjoyed the outdoors during the Victoria Day weekend as the city and province eased restrictions
Holding a golf club on the fairway helped Shaun Cooke feel normal — a feeling that has escaped many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For him, getting to play at the Rock Chapel Golf Centre on Sunday was therapeutic.
"It was just knowing we could get out and be in the fresh air ... instead of standing on your driveway," he said.
"I'm all for [opening up restrictions] as long as people respect distance."
Hamiltonians reaped the rewards of a mostly sunny long weekend, taking to parks, trails and golf courses as the city and the province slowly unravel more restrictions that were put in place because of the virus.
Some worry things may open up too quickly while others welcome the re-introduced freedoms, though most seem to be doing what they can to physically distance and still get some fresh air.
Chris Pedersen took his four-year-old son William to the Rock Chapel Golf Centre for his first ever nine-hole game of golf. Pedersen said he is not worried about more businesses opening.
"There's a lot of difference of opinions. If people adhere to the rules, it's fine," he explained.
They would have played on Saturday, but the club was fully booked.
"We were asked to be put on call and we were lucky to get out today," he laughed.
Sharon Hendershott and her family had a good run along the Chedoke Rail Trail on Sunday, mainly because it was quieter than the day before.
"You get a little frustrated when you're here all the time. I appreciate there's not a lot to do ... but we spent the majority of yesterday running around [people] because people who may not be on the trail all the time are unaware about social distancing," she said.
"People are just walking four [people] across and holding hands, and maybe you should just walk in a double-file [line]."
Meanwhile, Cuong To and his sister, Nhung, came from out of town to enjoy Hamilton's nature. They drove in from Mississauga to explore the Chedoke Rail Trail.
"There's things in Hamilton that aren't present in Mississauga," Cuong said. "It's nice to see people are out and about, getting fresh air and the park is not totally deserted."
He would consider golfing and other activities but all the potential lineups are deterring him from doing so.
John and Marione Kemp took their foster kids, Preston and Michael Grief, out to the Valens Conservation Area to teach them how to paddle. It was their first time to a park since the virus hit Hamilton in March.
The kids joked that they almost tipped their canoe on the wavy, windy waters. John said he was happy to be out but would like to see a slow, measured approach to loosening restrictions rather than something rapid and risky.
"We don't want it to start all over again," he said.
Others spent Sunday and Saturday outside in spots like Bayfront Park. The area was full of families, fishers, cyclists and pets soaking under the sun.
Uptick in infections after outbreak
Hamilton had 585 cases of COVID-19 (578 confirmed, 7 probable) on Sunday, which is up 73 from Friday, mainly because of an outbreak at The Rosslyn Retirement Residence near Gage Park which was so severe the building was emptied. Overall, Hamilton has 10 institutional outbreaks. The virus has killed 27, but 383 people have survived.
Nine people are in hospital with COVID-19 at Hamilton Health Sciences and 38 are at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.
Here's what's happening elsewhere:
Brant and Brantford has not seen a new case in a full week, and are still reporting 102 cases of COVID-19. Only six of those cases are still active. The virus has killed three.
There are outbreaks at Telfer Place in Paris (one resident), and Brierwood Gardens (one staff) and St. Joseph's Lifecare Centre (two staff) in Brantford.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is reporting 205 cases of COVID-19, an increase of one new case since Wednesday. Of those, 82 people have recovered and 31 have died. Twenty-seven of those deaths were at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville.
Halton has 633 cases (563 confirmed, 70 probable), which is 55 more than Friday. Twenty-five people have died and 476 have recovered.
In Burlington, there are 132 cases (116 confirmed, 16 probable), an increase of six since Friday. Seven people have died and 93 have recovered. One person is in hospital at Joseph Brant with COVID-19, three residents have tested positive at Hampton Terrace and one is infected at The Brant Centre.
Niagara has 607 confirmed cases, an increase of 29 since Friday. Of those, 437 people have recovered and 56 have died.
There are outbreaks at Niagara Health's St. Catharines and Greater Niagara hospital sites, Lundy Manor in Niagara Falls, and Royal Rose Place and Seasons Welland in Welland.