Masks will be mandatory at Ottawa playgrounds starting Wednesday

Ottawa's medical officer of health has stopped short of mandating masks in city parks but anyone over the age of two will have to wear them around playground equipment starting Wednesday.

There are some exceptions for younger children

Children over the age of two will have to wear masks and stay two metres from other children when on or within five metres of a playground. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

Ottawa's medical officer of health has stopped short of mandating masks in city parks but anyone over the age of two will have to wear them around playgrounds starting Wednesday.

The order covers children and adults on or within five metres of any sort of playground equipment, including swings, slides and sandboxes.

The focus will be those who are chronologically or developmentally age five or older in case younger children are unable to wear their masks, the order states.

Children will also have to remain at least two metres from anyone not in their household.

Dr. Vera Etches issued the health order Monday evening, which comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and lasts until further notice.

Up to bylaw officers' discretion

Health officials have been saying there's much less risk of contracting the virus outside than inside, but the risk is there, especially if people are close together.

Masks can only be removed if someone is eating or drinking or for an emergency or medical reason, the order states.

People can still walk, run or cycle through parks, but must remain distanced from others not in their household.

The order does not apply to playgrounds at daycares or school playgrounds when in-person classes resume.

While the order states individual situations will be up to bylaw discretion, anyone found breaching the order could be fined up to $750.

Playgrounds were originally closed under Ontario's strengthened stay-at-home order on Friday, but that decision was reversed the next day.

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