Over a dozen outdoor city rinks now open in Winnipeg — with 23 more on the way
Mayor recommends Winnipeggers avoid crowded outdoor areas, encourages people to make use of city spaces
Winnipeggers looking to make the best of pandemic isolation have a variety of additional outdoor options to choose from, including all city toboggan hills and over a dozen outdoor rinks that are now open.
As of Tuesday, 16 city ice rinks are open, with work being done to open another 23, said the city's head of emergency management. Jay Shaw said skating rinks at duck ponds are now open at Harbourview and St. Vital Park.
All Winnipeg toboggan hills are also open, but a stretch of unseasonably warm weather recently led to the closure of all winter slides. Shaw said those can be officially reopened once the city gets colder temperatures and more snow.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman encouraged people to get outdoors and make use of the city services amid pandemic restrictions that have outlawed private indoor gatherings.
City bylaw officers enforcing provincial health orders have completed over 1,200 inspections since Dec. 17, said Shaw. Officers issued two warnings on Dec. 22 related to gathering sizes, but no tickets were handed out.
Provincial health orders are set to expire Friday, though it's not yet clear whether they will be extended or revised. For now, maximum gathering sizes outside in public places are capped at five.
Hundreds gathered on the ice and surrounding areas at The Forks over the weekend. Manitoba's chief public health officer was asked Monday about this and said it was OK, though he reiterated that groups of greater than five aren't allowed. He has in the past urged people to avoid crowded areas.
Shaw and Bowman echoed those warnings Tuesday while also urging Winnipeggers to stay active outdoors amid restrictions.
"The virus, we know, can be spread not just inside but also outdoors, and I would just encourage people to exercise caution and stick to those fundamentals," said Bowman.
"If things are crowded, don't go there," said Shaw.
Plows began work on Tuesday morning to extend the skating trail beginning at The Forks west down the Assiniboine River to the Osborne Bridge.