City golf courses, playgrounds to open; libraries to remain closed
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/04/2020 (1011 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
City playgrounds, golf courses and sports fields are set to open up Monday, though libraries won’t unlock their doors just yet.
Mayor Brian Bowman urged Winnipeggers to be patient as the city responds to provincial rules that will allow a variety of facilities to reopen Monday, after the sites closed to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
“We’re considering how to implement this rapid reopening under very short time frames, while weighing the health and safety or our staff and our residents.”
– Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowmn
Bowman said the city learned about the province’s reopening plan as it was released to the public on Wednesday.
“We’re considering how to implement this rapid reopening under very short time frames, while weighing the health and safety or our staff and our residents,” he said.
All city-owned play structures and picnic shelters will reopen Monday, along with skate parks, tennis courts, basketball courts, and athletic fields. People must abide by physical distancing rules and gatherings must be limited to 10 people. Only non-contact sports will be allowed.
The Kildonan Park, Crescent Drive, and Harbour View golf courses will also open, while the Windsor Park golf course will remain closed due to high water levels on the Seine River.
City libraries will remain closed, however, as the city determines how to handle sites full of high-touch objects, including books.
“I don’t know if I can define a more high-touch area. Libraries, in (their) essence, are places that we have to be touching books, moving things. We want to make sure that we have an appropriate, safe plan for our staff and our patrons,” said Jason Shaw, Winnipeg’s assistant chief of emergency management.
Shaw stressed that people who flock to sites on Monday must follow physical distancing rules and gathering limits, which he expects parents will help enforce at playgrounds.
“Parents will be out with their kids and parents are going to be doing what they’ve always done. They’ll be watching their children, they’ll be washing their hands before and after,” he said.
To assist restaurants, Bowman said the city will conduct a fast-tracked registration process for new temporary patios, since the province will allow patio restaurants, but not indoor dining, as of Monday.
Restaurant owners can apply for that clearance on the city’s website as of Friday. The city will try to confirm as many approvals as possible by Monday, Bowman said.
The temporary patios could last until May 31, when the city will re-evaluate them.
Meanwhile, a planned Winnipeg Transit service cut will take place as planned on Monday, despite the fact citizens will suddenly have more places to go that same day.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, which represents bus drivers, has lobbied the city to cancel the switch to an enhanced Saturday schedule on weekdays, as well as 253 driver layoffs.
“We need the service to have the capacity to provide the needed buses for the influx of the public that will be taking transit and will be going out to the malls and those services that will be open on Monday,” said union president Romeo Ignacio.
Ignacio said he fears imposing the cuts just as the economy begins to reopen will create crowding on buses, which could prevent riders from following public health advice to remain at least two metres apart.
Bowman said he’s confident ridership has fallen so steeply that social distancing on buses will be possible.
“The service demands were reduced by about 70 per cent and we ultimately reduced the service by about 30 per cent, so there’s a pretty large buffer to assist with the physical distancing,” the mayor said.
Shaw said Transit service could increase if needed.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
Updated on Friday, May 1, 2020 8:48 AM CDT: Corrects cutline