Niagara's top doc says outdoor parks are 'pretty safe' if families follow public health advice

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Niagara's top doctor says letting children play at outdoor parks is 'pretty safe' if you follow a few guidelines.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji tells CKTB News distance between children from different households is key to avoid spreading the virus.

He says parents should keep an eye on kids to ensure physical distancing.

Hirji says the risk of surface transfer is low, but it can happen.

He says there is a small chance that the COVID virus could live on an outdoor surface, but another child would need to come into contact with it quickly and then touch their face.

He says outdoor playgrounds have the benefit of sunlight to kill viruses, and it's not necessary to wipe down equipment.

His advice is to ask children not to put their hands in their mouths while playing, and to sanitize hands after playing.

Ontario's outdoor parks remain open during the government's stay-at-home order which is now set to last until at least May 20.

The CDC has this advice:

In communities where there is ongoing spread of COVID-19, playgrounds can be hard to keep safe because:

They are often crowded and could make social distancing difficult;
It can be difficult to keep surfaces clean and disinfected;
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread when young children touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you choose to visit a playground:

Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Adults and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer: Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub hands together until dry, if soap and water are not readily available.