Brampton, Ontario (Canada) Mayor Patrick Brown announced that the city is working to provide residents more options to remain active outside, while fitness centers and other recreation facilities are closed to prevent the spreading of the omicron variant.
According to a report, as of Wednesday morning, establishments such as gyms and recreation centers have been banned from operating due to a series of new health and safety measures that will be in place for a minimum period of 21 days.
In a press briefing, Mayor Brown described the closures as a tough pill to swallow due to how extensively used the city’s recreation facilities are.
However, he added that the city is planning to contribute to helping residents remain active throughout the lockdown by providing additional possibilities for outdoor recreation.
He added that Brampton would be extending hours of operation of many city-run rinks during the following months and offering fun, family-friendly outdoor programming like instructor-led outdoor hikes.
Brown also stated that the city would be performing additional maintenance on some of its trails outdoors and clearing the snow off the 100 outdoor sports fields, which remain open.
In the meantime, plans are in place to create an outdoor rink contest for residents. The concept, Brown said, follows after the successful backyard gardening contest that the city hosted earlier in the pandemic.
“If we’re getting to the point where we’re not allowing outdoor amenities or functions, you know, that would be going down a different path than the science and the data and the science the data is very clear that outdoor is low risk and if you start to say you can’t have outdoor functions what’s next are we going to be canceling skiing and skating next? For me, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“We’ve learned about this virus, we’ve learned that the residents can enjoy the outdoors, and I, for one, will continue to advocate for the ability to have outdoor amenities and functions for our residents.”
Public health officials have stated that residents must drastically cut down on their contact with others to lessen the impact of Omicron and to give the healthcare medical system an improved chance of dealing with the increasing volume of patients.
Brown, however, admitted that he struggles with the closure of recreational facilities, given the relationship between health issues and the severe consequences of COVID-19.
“There are many tools in the toolkit, but one way to support health and wellness in the community is to encourage active lifestyles, and I have to say one of my worries when we close recreation is there’s an equity issue as well,” he said.
“You know, very few people have the luxury of having recreational amenities in their own home. Many residents don’t even have a backyard.”
In the new provincial regulations, outdoor recreation facilities will continue to operate. However, the number of people allowed should not be more than 50 percent of the venue’s capacity.
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