Ontario is retracting new coronavirus restrictions that banned playgrounds, police said after outcry

The Ontario premier on Saturday retracted restrictions that banned playgrounds and allowed police to demand anyone not at home to explain why they came out after a backlash from police, officials health and the public.

Pandemic restrictions imposed by Canada’s most populous province immediately met with opposition, with police departments insisting they would not use new powers to haphazardly stop pedestrians or motorists and health experts have complained that the rules focus on outdoor activities rather than more dangerous indoor environments.

The government of Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Friday that it is giving police the power to demand that anyone not at home explain why they are away and give their address. Tickets can be written.


But Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said Saturday officers will no longer have the right to stop a pedestrian or vehicle to ask why they are away or ask for their home address.

But Jones said police may require someone to provide information to ensure they are following the restrictions if the officer has reason to suspect the person is attending an organized public event or event. social gathering,

Previously, at least a dozen police forces across Ontario, including the capital city of Toronto, had said there would be no random stops of people or cars.

“We are all going through a horrible year of COVID-19 and all are associated with it. The (department) will NOT randomly stop vehicles for no reason during the pandemic or after,” Halton Police Chief Steve Tanner tweeted. .

Ford’s Friday announcement limited outdoor gatherings to those in the same household and enclosed playgrounds and golf courses. These decisions have sparked much criticism in an already closed province. Restaurants and gyms are closed, as are classroom lessons. Most non-essential workers work from home.

Ford on Saturday retracted an initially announced ban on playgrounds, but added that the ban on “outdoor gatherings will still be in effect,” Ford tweeted.


Ford complained about crowded parks and playgrounds, but at Friday’s new conference he did not mention workplaces considered essential, such as factories, where the virus is spreading.

“What we need: increased restrictions to reduce internal contact, support for essential frontline workers, paid sick leave, a redefinition of vaccine deployment priorities for hard-hit communities,” tweeted Joe Cressy, who sits on Toronto City Council.

“What we got: the closure of the outdoor facilities, which we need to keep people safe and healthy.”

“I have yet to intubate a COVID patient who had been infected after being in a playground,” tweeted Dr. Ian Preyra, who works at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont.

“Warehouse worker, truck driver, construction worker… none of my COVID patients today have acquired this at the park. They are angry and they have no voice. Ashamed,” tweeted Dr. Aman Sidhu, a pulmonary physician in Toronto.

Dr Andrew Morris, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, said closing playgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities “will hurt children and their families whose property we have already damaged. -being forced to close schools ”.


He complained that the new rules do not create paid sick leave or improved protections for essential workers, even though they allow “the police to target those they choose to approach them to ensure that” they are suitably outside their homes.

“It won’t affect a white man like me. It’s going to target essential workers and racialized people. That’s what people talk about when they describe systemic racism,” Morris wrote in a weekly email to subscribers.

Ontario reported 4,362 new infections on Saturday and a record 2,065 people hospitalized receiving treatment for COVID. He begged other provinces to send nurses and other health workers.

Vaccinations have intensified in Canada, the presence of more contagious variants in Ontario has led to a third wave of infections.

Ford said a lack of vaccines made the new restrictions necessary.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday that Pfizer would double its vaccine shipments to Canada over the next month, with millions more than expected arriving in May and June.

Every eligible Canadian is expected to get at least one vaccine by July.

Ontario just closed schools days ago after insisting for weeks on safety. The new initial order to close the playgrounds has infuriated parents.


“The cognitive dissonance between the Minister of Education insisting that schools are safe, then closing playgrounds confuses the mind,” said Jim Vlahos, a 44-year-old father of two in Toronto. .

“There is no rhyme or reason for exterior closures.”

Owen Holliday, a 16-year-old who works on a golf course in Shelburne, Ont., Is now out of work and said he is very upset, especially for seniors who exercise through sports .

“With all the protocols, prepaid reservations, closed clubs, masks if you’re riding with someone outside the house, no gatherings after tee times, golf is as safe as it gets,” he said. declared.

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