Ontario may soon lift some COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor activities, solicitor general says

Conversations are underway about what outdoor activities can safely resume during Ontario's provincewide stay-at-home order, the province's solicitor general said Friday.

In an effort to drive down community transmission of COVID-19 during the third wave of the pandemic, the Ford government shuttered many outdoor amenities earlier this month, including basketball and tennis courts in public parks. Other outdoor activities that are currently prohibited include golfing and camping.

Playgrounds were initially closed but the province quickly reversed that decision following intense public backlash.

The province's own Science Advisory Table has spoken out against some of the measures, stating that any policies that discourage safe outdoor activity “will not control COVID-19 and will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have access to their own greenspace.”

Some have openly defied the provincial rules, including one London-area golf course that opened last week despite being ordered to close.

Speaking to CP24 on Friday morning, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said officials hope to soon release details about what outdoor activities can resume.

"I really think it is important that we don't just talk about golf but we talk about outdoor activities in general," she said.

"What the scientists have told us is that outdoor activities generally, if you can socially distance, keep that two metres apart, and when you can't, mask appropriately, that having the opportunity to be outside, to get some exercise, is excellent and it is good for our mental health."

She said the province needs to be careful not to encourage activities that increase mobility.

"I would not look at golf specifically. I would look at the sector in terms of what can we safely do outside while still ensuring that we understand when people move around, when they go from region to region, it does put other communities at risk," she said.

"So I know there are a number of conversations happening regarding it and I hope that we will have news for you to share in the coming days and weeks."