New Brunswick

Chief medical officer says park use during outbreak OK, with precautions

The province is giving New Brunswickers the green light to enjoy municipal ​​​​parks and trails, as long as they practise social distancing while doing so.

While municipal parks remain open, provincial and Irving-owned parks close

Walking with dogs in the park? You're good to go. Walking with other humans? That's more complicated. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

The province is giving New Brunswickers the green light to enjoy municipal ​​​​parks and trails, as long as they practise social distancing while doing so.

This comes after some people were "shamed" on social media over the weekend for being out and about in nature after New Brunswick declared a state of emergency.

At a daily news conference on the coronavirus outbreak, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, said people do not need to be entirely housebound during this time of restrictions.

They should, however, maintain a two-metre distance from each other and avoid crowded areas.

"Get outside to exercise, not socialize," she said.

For people who have been asked to self-isolate, the rules are different, however. They must stay at home, Russell said, although they can get fresh air by going out on their deck or lawn.

Some parks have been closed because of COVID 19.

This includes Irving–owned parks, including the popular Irving Nature Park in Saint John.

"In these unprecedented times, we as a community must come together to ensure the health and safety of everyone is a top priority," said Mary Keith, a spokesperson for J.D.Irving.

"In an effort to minimize public gatherings and the potential of spreading COVID-19, we have decided to close the parks operated by J.D. Irving, Limited until further notice." 

Walk with caution

In a Saint John council meeting Monday, city manager John Collin said the city is not going to close parks right now, as Russell hasn't recommended it.

"To go out and have a stroll, so long as you respect social distancing, may actually be beneficial," said Collin.

Wayne Knorr, a spokesperson for the City of Fredericton, said the city's parks are open for business but he urges people to practise social distancing.

"We also remind people to avoid crowded sections of trails and parks," said Knorr.

While municipal parks have largely remained open, playgrounds are another matter. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

"In addition, and as per the province's advice, people should be sure to wash their hands when they return from being out in public."

City of Moncton spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc said the city would not be closing parks or trails at this time.

"We are preparing signage to be installed in the next day or so that encourage people to exercise and not socialize along the trails and emphasizing the two metre physical distance between people," said LeBlanc.

There are some differences in the way municipalities are treating playgrounds.

In Fredericton they will remain open, while Riverview and Moncton have made the decision to close playgrounds in those communities.

Provincial parks closed

New Brunswick closed all provincial parks on March 19, including the only three open during winter months: Mount Carleton, Mactaquac and Sugarloaf.

Parks Canada has closed facilities and visitor services at all national parks.

New Brunswick closed all provincial parks on March 19, including the only three open during winter months: Mount Carleton, Mactaquac and Sugarloaf. (James Donald/Hiking NB)

It has also suspended visitor vehicle access to national parks.

"Parks Canada is asking Canadians to stay home," said a statement from Parks Canada. 

"Anyone considering a visit to a Parks Canada location, including those in urban areas, should cancel their plans as vehicle access for the purposes of visitor use will be suspended until further notice."

About the Author

Jordan Gill

Reporter

Jordan Gill is a CBC reporter based out of Fredericton. He can be reached at jordan.gill@cbc.ca.

With files from Connell Smith

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