COVID-19 playground closure signs are about to be replaced with signs advising visitors how to stay healthy while using play facilities when the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo allow children and families back into the play parks Wednesday, June 3. (News Bulletin file photo)

UPDATED: Playgrounds reopening throughout mid-Vancouver Island

Health guidelines in effect as Nanaimo, Cowichan join the Comox Valley in lifting restrictions

The City of Nanaimo and Regional District of Nanaimo has reopened playgrounds today, with conditions.

Both levels of government announced in separate press releases that playgrounds will re-open June 3 and that the decision was made in consulting with the province, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Island Health.

Playgrounds have been off limits since March 16 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, but tennis courts, pickleball courts, gated off-leash dog parks and bike parks have been open since May 14 under Phase 2 guidelines of the B.C. restart plan.

Signs will be posted at all city and RDN playgrounds advising visitors how to stay safe and healthy while using the playground facilities.

RELATED: COVID-19: City of Parksville announces gradual re-opening plan

RELATED: Cowichan Valley Regional District reopening playgrounds, washrooms and more

Residents are reminded to follow physical distancing guidelines by maintaining a two-metres distance from anyone outside their households, wash hands before entering and after leaving the parks, and bring hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes. People are asked to stay away from playgrounds if they are ill or have been exposed to an ill person or have a child that is immunocompromised, consider using playgrounds at less busy times, and avoid sharing equipment, toys, food, water bottles and other personal items. People are asked not to congregate in groups larger than 50 people.

Indoor recreation facilities, such as recreation centres, arenas, pools and city-owned cultural venues will remain closed as city staff work on a re-opening strategy.

Meanwhile, in North Cowichan, municipal parks are gradually re-opening in collaboration with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, other member municipalities, and Cowichan Valley School District No. 79 following guidelines released Monday by the BC Recreation and Parks Association and Worksafe BC.

This includes playgrounds, public washrooms, seasonal portables and skate parks. Municipal dog parks, sports courts and fields, and tennis/pickleball courts are already open.

To ensure parks can be used and enjoyed safely after opening, North Cowichan is implementing a Park Ambassador Pilot Program later this month. This new program, staffed by recreation employees, will have ambassadors visible at North Cowichan’s busiest parks, beaches and municipally sanctioned trails.

“I am pleased to have a coordinated approach to reopening parks across the Cowichan Valley,” said Mayor Al Siebring. “The launch of the Park Ambassador program will help ensure this reopening happens safely. Where it is possible to do so, our recreation staff will be able to demonstrate proper physical distancing to patrons, and help address any issues or unsafe behaviours at our parks, beaches and trails. I would like to emphasize that playground facilities will not be undergoing extra cleaning and users should continue to exercise caution and good judgment when visiting these facilities.”

For parents who feel playground structures pose a risk to the health and safety of their children, it is recommended to abstain from using them.

School District 71 and Comox Valley local governments reopened outdoor playgrounds on Monday, June 1.

This reopening includes all district school playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment as well as public outdoor playgrounds in the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), city of Courtenay, town of Comox, village of Cumberland and 19-Wing Comox.
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