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The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says it will open outdoor recreation facilities such as skating rinks, skating trails, tobogganing hills, and certain snowmobile trails starting Feb. 22.

The news came just hours after the Ontario government announced it would be extending the North Bay area’s stay-at-home order for an additional two weeks.

Health officials closed the city operated facilities in January due to complaints received regarding individuals and groups not safely utilizing the space in accordance with the recommended health guidelines.

In a Feb. 19 media release, the Health Unit said it was asking municipalities in its service area to assess their plan in order to safely reopen their sites.

Those plans to reopen must ensure safety measures are in place and that guidelines are followed including physical distancing, the use of face masks, and limits on gathering.

Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) snowmobile trails and snowmobile trails on Crown Land in the district will open effective Monday February 22, 2021

“This decision was made through consultation with the OFSC, who have outlined a comprehensive COVID-19 Flex Trails plan,” read the news release.

"If there is evidence that public health measures are not being followed, the Health Unit will re-evaluate the situation, potentially reclosing these trails."

The Health Unit went on to acknowledge the importance of outdoor physical activity but emphasized the importance of ensure it is done safely.

"Outdoor physical activity, such as walking, running, playing outside and biking are important for physical and mental health and still recommended by the Health Unit," said officials in the release.

"However, all activities outside the house need to be done with extreme caution, following the COVID-19 public health measures, and should be done close to home."

If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario's Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.

If you need further assistance call your health care provider or the Health Unit at 1-800-563-2808.