Winnipeg playgrounds, skate parks and fields close as COVID-19 restrictions tighten
Entire province moving to red, or critical, level starting Thursday
Effective immediately, all City of Winnipeg-owned playgrounds, skate parks and recreational sports fields are closed as all of Manitoba prepares to move into the red, or critical, level of the provincial pandemic response plan.
City parks, including dog parks, will remain open, but people are asked to physically distance and group sizes are limited to five people or less, Jay Shaw, the city's assistant chief of emergency management, said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Winter outdoor recreation spaces, like city-owned toboggan slides and rinks, aren't currently operating and will remain closed for now.
The measures were ordered by the province, Shaw said, but there's some confusion about whether the city has to tape off structures and put up signage.
In the event the closures aren't respected, the city will enforce the measures, he said.
"If you're following the public health orders to the letter of the law, you're going to keep that money in your pocket. But if you're not, there's a strong potential you're going to get a fine now," he said.
The city has fined one business since Nov. 6 — Gymboree Play Centre on Kenaston Boulevard — for not closing when it was supposed to, Shaw said.
Bylaw officers have also been proactively entering businesses to ensure they're complying with public health orders, he said, but have mostly issued verbal warnings.
Mayor Brian Bowman says he supports the province's latest move to the red level, which was announced Tuesday and comes into effect Thursday. The city of Winnipeg, and the surrounding area, have been at that pandemic response level since Nov. 2.
He called the provincial test positivity rate, which jumped more than one percentage point to 10.6 per cent on Tuesday, "very alarming."
"We're in the storm right now, and we will get through this," he said. "I'm hopeful that this measure will help us once again flatten the curve."