Regina, Saskatoon close down playgrounds to slow transmission of COVID-19

Regina is closing down 165 city-owned playgrounds. Public and Catholic schools are doing the same.

Dog parks are also closed in Regina, but remain open in Saskatoon

The Sandra Schmirler splash park is one of the playgrounds closed down due to concerns about the coronavirus. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Regina and Saskatoon are temporarily closing down city-owned playgrounds in an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Regina says the decision, announced Tuesday, is in line with public health guidelines designed to prevent contact with shared surfaces, such as playground equipment.

Dog parks, skateboard parks and picnic sites are also closing in Regina, along with basketball, tennis and pickleball courts.

Residents are being asked to stop using these facilities immediately.

Parks and pathways are still open to the public, though the city is urging people to maintain social distance.

Saskatoon also announced Tuesday that playgrounds will be closed, sports fields are not to be used for organized play, and residents should not play games like soccer or hockey that put you in close contact with others. 

Saskatoon is, though, keeping dog parks open, along with trails, public squares and areas around civic buildings.

Anyone using a dog park is reminded to observe social distancing, meaning they should stay at least two metres away from other people.

People are also reminded to wash their hands and avoid touching shared surfaces, like handrails and benches.

Swings are bound with yellow caution tape after playgrounds were shut down due to concerns about the coronavirus. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Regina's public and Catholic schools are also telling residents to stay away from playground equipment.

"This includes slides, swings, teeter-totters, jungle gyms and other equipment. None of this equipment is being cleaned or sanitized while schools are closed and can pose a health risk to anyone that uses them," said a Regina Public Schools news release.

"Playing basketball with friends, even if the players remain several feet apart, leaves the surface of the ball to carry germs between players," said a Regina Catholic Schools news release.

"Please consider getting your physical activity at home, in your yards, or by taking a walk, run or bike ride while maintaining a safe distance from others outside of your household."

Neither city gave any timeline on when parks are expected to reopen to the public.