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Recreational facilities set to reopen in Ontario, cottage getaways still prohibited

Barricades block entrance to parking area at Sir Casimir Gzowski Park which has been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

Ontario golf courses and tennis courts figure to be busy over the long weekend.

Many of the provincial government’s restrictions on outdoor recreation facilities will come to an end Saturday after first coming into effect on April 17.

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford walked back moves on increased police power and the closing of playgrounds one day after making an announcement on additional restrictions related to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order on April 16, he kept outdoor sport facilities closed.

Ford gave the green light for outdoor recreation facilities to reopen with restrictions in place, including physical distancing.

These include golf courses, tennis courts, skateboarding parks, sports fields, BMX and skate parks, shooting ranges and archery ranges, and horse riding.

Playing or practicing team sports is still prohibited.

Outdoor gathering limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, including members of different households.

Ontario was the only jurisdiction in North America to ban golf, and that sport’s community has been vocal about its disagreement.

With COVID-19 far more transmissible indoors than outdoors, many have argued the resumption of outdoor sports can be beneficial for Ontarians at a challenging time.

Despite loosening restrictions on outdoor recreation, the province’s stay-at-home order is still in effect until at least June 2 but that is not likely to stop some GTA residents from heading to their cottages for the long weekend.

As per the order, residents are not to travel outside of their region unless it is for an essential purpose.

It does permit people to travel to another residence, such as a cottage, for non-essential reasons if they are intending to stay for at least two weeks. People are also permitted to travel to another residence for an essential purpose, such as maintenance, if they intend to be there for less than 24 hours.