Toronto relaxes COVID-19 rink rules as winter activities move ‘toward normal’
The state’s coronavirus guidelines were loosened Friday to allow more snow play and more outdoor ice time during the winter months.
The city has more flexibility in the way it sets up skateable parks, but it remains subject to the state’s winter season rules until the end of the month, when its winter activities will “re-evaluate”.
“You have to understand that we’re taking a pretty broad approach right now to determine what we’re going to do,” said Deputy City Manager Jim O’Neill, in an interview Thursday.
“We’re just trying to balance the safety of the citizens with the health of the people who are skating.”
A spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Public Health said that while the state health department is taking a wait and see approach on the city’s snow and ice rules, the city has been more flexible when it comes to its rink and ice hockey rules.
“The city has taken away some of the restrictions imposed on it (the state), and the city has allowed an extension on the time that the City Council said it would allow to allow some things like play outside and winter recreational skates,” said Amy Bracken, the department’s communications director.
The city was forced to relax its rules when the state began requiring all public facilities, including city recreational parks, to close by April 30, in a move that came after a weekend of record-breaking rain and snowstorm, according to Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan Fielder.
“We will look at that decision with care as we move forward,” O’Neill said Thursday. “Because you have to look at the cost and the cost impact to the city, you have to look at what the return is, what is the benefit to the city if people stay inside.”
Fielder, who was in Ottawa on Friday, told a news conference that the state had imposed the closures as a precaution after a weekend of heavy rain and snow.
The day before the rule