Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones’ office says there are no plans to relax restrictions on outdoor activities right now, despite mounting pressure from businesses and health experts.
Speculation about an upcoming loosening of rules mounted after Jones was interviewed on CP24 Friday morning, where she discussed golf courses.
“The Solicitor General indicated that any conversation about changes to golf would need to be a broader discussion about outdoor activities generally,” a spokesperson for Jones’ office told Daily Hive. “No announcement is forthcoming as we remain in a Stay-at-Home order.”
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Public health experts have said that outdoor activities are safer than indoor gatherings. Many people have expressed frustration that Premier Doug Ford further restricted outdoor amenities during the latest Stay-at-Home order.
On April 8, the province ordered amenities such as basketball courts, soccer pitches, baseball diamonds, and tennis courts shut. Children’s playgrounds were initially closed too, but Ford backtracked after public pressure, allowing them to stay open.
One online petition calling for a reversal of Ontario’s outdoor activity ban has gathered more than 36,000 signatures. The petition, titled “Let’s get back golfing, rowing, playing tennis, and picnicking again in Ontario,” argues that outdoor activities are vital for mental and physical health.
A second online petition calling for golf courses to re-open is even more popular, with more than 91,000 people adding their support.
Others are ignoring the orders by hopping fences to play tennis in closed cords or snapping pictures of cordoned-off cherry blossom trees.
At Wedgewood Parks Tennis Court (145 Wedgewood Drive), people are playing tennis on one court. Door is locked. How come they are inside and playing tennis? Is this against the law? #Toronto #covid19 pic.twitter.com/s417cA4Wfg
— Lisa Forest 🇨🇦🌈 (@Lisa37773721) April 24, 2021
The Trinity Bellwoods Sakura fence working as well as the vaccine rollout. pic.twitter.com/fnaWEbMerr
— rob shostak 🔶 ʞɐʇsoɥs qoɹ (@Robonto) April 23, 2021
Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said at a modelling update Thursday that outdoor activities can be made safer with masking and distancing, but indoor activities remain unsafe.
Both indoor and outdoor gatherings with members outside one’s household are currently prohibited. People can, however, go outside for a walk, run, bike ride, or other forms of exercise with people they live with.