Sports fields are open to public but ban on social gatherings means no team play

Peterborough medical officer of health says only 'solitary behaviour' allowed until gathering restrictions are lifted

Outdoors sports fields like the baseball diamonds in Peterborough's East City are open, but for solitary use only. Due to the continuing Ontario government emergency order probibiting gatherings of people to no more than five, team play is not yet allowed. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW.com)
Outdoors sports fields like the baseball diamonds in Peterborough's East City are open, but for solitary use only. Due to the continuing Ontario government emergency order probibiting gatherings of people to no more than five, team play is not yet allowed. (Photo: Bruce Head / kawarthaNOW.com)

Athletic fields, ball diamonds, and other outdoor recreational amenities in Ontario, including the Peterborough region, are again open for public use — but don’t be getting your friends together for a pick-up game.

During her weekly media briefing held Wednesday (May 20), Peterborough medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Salvaterra said that while the Ontario government has lifted that restriction, a ban on gatherings of more than five people remains very much in place.

“The benefit is that the space is available for use, but the purpose is still restricted,” Dr. Salvaterra explained. “As physical distancing gets lifted and larger groups are able to gather, there may be other uses of that space that can be allowed.”

“The big change is having that space made available for things like walking or running — things you can do as a solitary behaviour.”

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Peterborough Mayor Diane Therrien, who also attended the briefing, added that city officials discussed this development as recently as Wednesday morning (May 20). She said the city is already receiving calls and emails from sports league organizers requesting clarification and direction.

“Soccer fields are reopen but how do you play with two metres between players?,” Therrien pointed out.

“Saying that those facilities are open is fine, but we need to maintain those barriers. The use of them doesn’t look as it has traditionally looked. It gives people more green space to walk and run around in, but without having that organized sport component.”

Referring to updated COVID-19 data for the region, Dr. Salvaterra noted the total number of positive cases for the region is now 76 — an increase of three cases since over the past week.

She said all three cases are connected to one family member who recently returned from abroad.

Of the positive cases, 69 have been resolved while five cases remain active with two COVID-19 related deaths reported. More than 6,900 people have been tested — 1,300 of them over the past week. One of every 21 residents in Peterborough Public Health’s catchment area has now been tested.

There have been no new outbreaks in the region, with an earlier outbreak at Kawartha Heights Retirement Living involving a staff member who tested positive yet to be resolved.

Gender wise, COVID-19 continues to afflict more females (54 per cent) than males (46 per cent). As for the source of COVID-19 exposure, 51.3 per cent of those who have tested positive had contact with a known case while the remainder contracted the virus via travel abroad (31.6 per cent) or community transmission — which, at 17.1 per cent, is at half the provincial rate.

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Dr. Salvaterra said that, moving forward, lessons learned from the devastating Spanish flu pandemic that killed millions worldwide more than 100 years ago shouldn’t be forgotten.

“It was actually the second wave that was the most deadly,” she notes.

“No one can predict the trajectory of this COVID-19 pandemic. Until we make it to the other side, perhaps in 18 or 24 months, we need to incorporate fast and easy access to testing as part of our reflex reaction to the development of any new or worsening symptoms can signal a COVID infection.”

Also participating in Wednesday’s media briefing was Selwyn mayor and Peterborough board of health chair Andy Mitchell.

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