All Red Deer playgrounds will be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Black Press photo)

City of Red Deer is closing all outdoor playgrounds, urging social distancing

City transit service to start at 6:30 a.m. starting Wednesday

Red Deer’s playgrounds will now be close and cordoned off to protect local kids from touching unsanitized surfaces.

The City is taking additional measures to protect Red Deerians and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — all local playgrounds will be made inaccessible to the public starting on Tuesday.

Mayor Tara Veer said she knows this will not be a popular move with many parents who are already struggling to entertain their children with the closure of recreation facilities to June 30.

But given that the virus can survive on surfaces for several hours and playgrounds can’t be wiped down often enough, (most also do not have nearby hand-washing facilities), she said it’s a necessary public safety step.

“This was a difficult decision for us to make, as we know families are at home with children, looking for ways to keep active and enjoy warmer temperatures,” said Veer.

“We must make these hard decisions in order to stop the spread in our community. We know we are doing the right thing.”

Parents seeking activities to entertain their kids can find some suggestions on the Red Deer Active at Home Facebook page.

The playground closures also affect fitness parks, but not dog parks. These will remain open, as will public trails, open park spaces and pathways.

“We endeavor to keep trails and pathways open,” said Veer. But she stressed that residents must ensure that they keep the required two-metres away from any people they pass on the trails. People should also avoid touching handrails, garbage cans or other objects while out, and wash your hands upon returning home.

Karen Mann, the city’s emergency management co-ordinator, said the decision to keep public green spaces open will have to be re-evaluated if too many people are not practising social distancing.

All Red Deer businesses that remain open were also urged by Veer to put social distancing protocols in place to keep their staff and patrons safe.

Meanwhile, transit bus start times, which were set at 7:45 a.m. on Monday, will be pushed back to a 6:45 a.m. starting on Wednesday to allow some riders to get to work on time.

Mann thanked residents for providing valuable feedback. “We are happy to be able to make this adjustment… beginning on Wednesday morning.”

The City of Red Deer encourages citizens to follow the recommendations of Alberta Health Services. For the latest information on COVID-19 visit alberta.ca/covid19.

For the latest on how City services are impacted visit reddeer.ca/covid19. Please call the city call centre from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. with questions at 403-342-8111.

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