Playing Outdoors: What Your Family Needs To Know As Measures Are Starting To Lift

For now...

With warm spring days ahead and after weeks of isolation, cooped up families are looking to get out. As some outdoor spaces start to re-open and as Ontario eases some of the restrictions related to COVID-19, here are the latest guidelines when it comes to playing outdoors — what's allowed and what's not, as of May 15, 2020.

City Parks

Most city parks are re-opening so check your city/town website for complete details. The city of Toronto recommends that it's okay to go to the park to walk, run, bike and exercise, while maintaining the physical distancing rule of six feet/two metres away from others. The province's ban of gatherings of more than five people who are not members of a single household is still in effect. Do not schedule playdates with friends.

Park benches and picnic tables cannot be used, but people are allowed to sit and use the green spaces. You can bring your own chairs or blanket to relax, bring your own toys to play, or have a picnic — as long as everyone you are with is from your bubble (the same family members you have been isolating with.) Fishing (with a license), boating, kayaking and canoeing are also permitted.

Park amenities are still strictly off limits under the order. That means the use of picnic tables, washrooms and playgrounds. Courts used for sports i.e. soccer fields, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and skate parks cannot be used. Other closed amenities include fixed barbecues, outdoor exercise equipment, greenhouses and nurseries, and frisbee golf locations. You cannot use a privately owned, portable barbecue or hibachi in a park. Portable barbecues cannot be used without a park permit, and these are not being issued right now. Parking lots and marinas are also closed. You can walk your dog on a leash but off-leash parks/sections are closed.

For more information and a complete list of restrictions, check the 'Parks Section' on the City of Toronto Changes to Services page.

Ontario Parks

As of May 11, 225 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves across the province have re-opened to the public for limited recreational activities. Right now, only self-guided activities such as walking, hiking, biking, boating, paddling and fishing (with a license) are permitted within provincial parks. Camping and other activities are still not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds and beaches continue to be closed.

Get updates from Provincial Parks here.

National Parks

Starting June 1, 2020, limited visitor access and services will be offered at select national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas. All camping facilities within these parks will remain closed at least until June 21, 2020, as Parks Canada assesses whether and how these services might resume. Get updates from Parks Canada here.

Remember, there are stiff penalties for not abiding to measures. City of Toronto Orders, Directives & Bylaws can be found here. For those outside of the Toronto area, check your city's website for further information on measures, new legislation and bylaws.

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