A group of Ottawa city councillors are asking the provincial government to reopen parks and outdoor recreational spaces.
In an open letter, sixteen councillors asked Premier Doug Ford to reconsider restrictions on outdoor spaces as residents’ mental and physical health decline.
“The pandemic has stretched on for over a year now, and the residents of Ottawa are looking for safe ways that they can get outdoors to be physically active, and to maintain their mental health and wellbeing,” the statement reads.
“We feel that the benefits to the physical and mental health and well-being of re-opening outdoor recreational activities far outweigh the risks associated with keeping them closed.”
In mid-April, the Ford government announced wide-sweeping restrictions for all Ontarians as cases of COVID-19 increased. Included in the restrictions were bans on outdoor recreational activities.
The Ottawa city councillors noted that many sporting activities have next to no risk of spreading COVID-19. Evidence suggests that the risk of contracting COVID-19 while outdoors is miniscule.
“Activities such as golf, tennis, and pickle ball, all lend themselves to physical distancing. When distancing requirements are adhered to, these types of outdoor activities can be a safe way for people to enjoy public spaces during a pandemic.”
The letter comes as medical experts report Ontario is facing a mental health crisis due to the lockdowns.
Further, Ontario Soccer recently called for outdoor sports to resume, citing evidence that outdoor soccer has proven to not be a source of COVID-19 infections.