BIGHORN – Welcome (back) to the jungle (gym).
Playgrounds in the MD of Bighorn could open as early as the end of the week, as Bighorn officials await proper social distancing signage for the playgrounds in the municipal district.
“Playgrounds are opening all over the place, when will we open ours,” Coun. Paul Ryan asked during the Tuesday (June 9) MD virtual council meeting.
The MD of Bighorn officially closed all its playgrounds on March 26 in line with the provincial guidelines, calling for two-metre social/physical distancing amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
After the province declared a State of Public Health Emergency mid-March, officials required non-essential businesses to shutter storefronts while strongly recommending a two-metre distance between people not from the same household. Municipalities across the province ended up taping off outdoor playgrounds as a way to comply with the new rules.
But as three months of pandemic life has passed and Alberta slowly rolls out the relaunch stages – currently, in stage one which includes the reopening of retail businesses, farmers market vendors, museums, daycares, places of worship, and dog parks and playgrounds unless restricted by municipal authorities and stage two set to roll out June 12 – parents are asking when their little ones can enjoy the jungle gyms again.
“Signs are getting prepared, hopefully for the end of this week or next week,” MD Chief Administration Officer Rob Ellis said.
“I’m a little concerned at the rise of COVID-19 cases in Calgary, but we are still wanting to proceed to open the playgrounds the latter of this week or next week. But that is conditional on receiving the signs."
As of Tuesday (June 9) morning, the Bow Valley regions – the Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8, which includes Canmore and the Bighorn hamlets and ID No. 9 which includes Banff and Lake Louise – had zero active cases and showed five recovered cases. Meanwhile, the City of Calgary, about an hour east, showed 196 active cases, 3,779 recovered and 101 deaths.
“More Albertans can now return to work and to the activities so many of us enjoy. However, I encourage you to do it safely. Think of the people in your life who may be at high risk from COVID-19 and protect all those around you as you would want your loved ones protected. Stay home if you are sick. Stay two metres apart and wear a non-medical mask if you can’t," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Ellis confirmed again to Ryan that once signage arrived and was installed the MD playgrounds would reopen.
Alberta officials warn using playgrounds still have some risks including the fact children may find it difficult to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth – leading to the spread of the virus to playground equipment, other children, and other families.
The government reminded Albertans that playground users still need to comply with gathering restrictions which means no more than 50 individuals to gather in an outdoor location, keeping at least a two-metre distance from people outside your household or cohort families and those with symptoms including a fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat, to stay at home.
Fo to Alberta.ca for more information.