Skateboarder Geoff Dermar at Cloverdale Youth Park. (File photo)

Coronavirus

COVID-19: Surrey closes skateparks, playgrounds and courts – but not sports fields

Closures don’t include fields, city says, despite recent concerns about ‘full blown games’

The City of Surrey has closed playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor courts – but not sports fields, Mayor Doug McCallum announced Monday morning (March 23).

In a release, McCallum stated that this latest move is due to a number of “individuals who are willfully ignoring the orders and measures issued by the Provincial Health Officer, such as gathering in large groups both in public spaces or at home.”

The closures do not include sports fields.

When asked why fields remain open, City of Surrey spokesperson Oliver Lum pointed to social distancing.

“All City of Surrey playing fields are closed for organized sports,” he wrote in an email to the Now-Leader. “Provincial sport organizations, i.e. BC Soccer, BC Football, BC Baseball, BC Softball and BC Cricket have suspended all play. Casual use of sports fields and open green space in our parks can take place within the parameters of social distancing.”

SEE ALSO: ‘Full-blown soccer game’ at Surrey park concerns resident amid COVID-19 fears

But on Friday, Surrey resident Gord Sholz told the Now-Leader he was “stunned” when he saw volleyball players sharing water from the same jug during a game break at Newton Athletic Park this week.

Likewise, he couldn’t believe his eyes when “a full-blown soccer game, with referees and everything” was played at the park on Wednesday afternoon (March 18).

“Every time I go there it seems there’s a soccer game going on,” Sholz said Thursday. “They don’t seem to be concerned about it.”

Sholz emailed the Now-Leader last week to complain about organized soccer games still be played at Newton Athletic Park, although he’s not sure whether they were part of an association or just “a bunch of guys playing.”

SEE ALSO: City of Surrey urged to declare local state of emergency

“We’re not talking about five or six people here, it was a game,” Sholz said.

“They need to smarten up,” he added. “The only way this is going to work is for the government to come in and say this park is closed to everybody, otherwise they’ll never get rid of this virus. How are you going to get rid of it if you allow certain things to go on?”

Meanwhile, City of Surrey parks and beaches also remain open, but McCallum reminded residents that proper social distancing measures must be followed.

“To the few who are defying the Provincial Health Officer’s orders, advice and measures, I implore you to stop,” he said. “Carrying on with this kind of behavior is selfish, and you are risking the health and well-being of your family, friends, and everyone in our community. We are in the process of finalizing enforcement measures and penalties for those who continue to defy the orders and measures.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey residents concerned about social-distancing rules not being followed

Arenas, culture facilities, museums, public pools, recreation centres and libraries remain closed until further notice.

On Thursday, during McCallum’s announcement that the city would be shutting down all city-run day camps and daycares, he urged residents to continue to enjoy Surrey’s outdoor spaces, including parks, playgrounds and beaches.

“Get out in the fresh air, but do so by being mindful of social distancing,” McCallum said Thursday. “There are many outdoor spaces you can make use of while keeping social distancing intact.”

Delta closed all playgrounds on Friday but parks remain open. Both Langley City and Langley Township have also closed public playgrounds to help slow the spread of COVID-19 but public parks, trails, tennis courts, sports fields, and sports courts remain open.

Meanwhile, the Surrey Board of Trade and the South Asian Business Association are urging the City of Surrey to immediately declare a local state of emergency amid the COVID-19 Outbreak.

“I know that this means closing down businesses for a period of time, except for essential services – this is a huge ask. But we must mitigate the spread of germs to counter this virus for the good of our economic future,” Anita Huberman, SBOT chief executive officer, said in a news release Monday (March 23).

Both organizations are also calling on the federal government to issue a national state of emergency, “providing leadership from the top.”

The City of Surrey reminds residents:

  • All gatherings (indoors or outdoors) over 10 people are discouraged.
  • Social distancing by keeping about two meters (six feet) from one another.
  • Use virtual options to connect with others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home when you are sick

– With files from Tom Zillich and Lauren Collins



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

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