TORONTO, March 24, 2020
ORFA members continue to be on the frontline during this pandemic and are trying to make quick decisions on many new operational challenges. Some are turning to the ORFA to assist in their decision-making processes. The use of the ORFA Discussion Board continues to be an important tool for members to communicate with each other. Consider this recent post on playground signage due diligence during these challenging times.
For those municipalities that have closed their playgrounds and skate parks and dog parks, I am interested in what steps you are taking for signage and/or enforcement. Has anyone reached out to understand any liability implications for taking either step (closure or no closure). The media message is to stay off them to prevent spreading of the virus. How are municipalities with multiple sites taking action to close them and ensure public is not using them? If we close them, what is our obligation to enforce? Join the discussion at: https://orfa.com/forum-build-and-grounds/8847098
The ORFA recommends that members consider the following facts when determining if playgrounds should remain open:
1. Health officials continue to discourage the gathering of people to help control the spread of COVID-19. Playground use may conflict with these objectives.
2. Given that the virus can live on surfaces for extended periods - public health officials recently shared the following general directive, that the cleaning of recreation common areas (not that any are currently in operation) should be done every 15 minutes.
3. If parks are to be closed, the ORFA recommends the same risk reduction approaches as closing these areas for winter use. Remove all devices that are considered an attraction. Control access by placing snow fencing or other barriers. Place signage advising of the closure. Inspect for use and take additional, appropriate control action(s) as required.
The ORFA respects that owners of playgrounds will consider how best to serve their communities. However, if these areas are not closed, a reminder that regular or increased inspection for safety will still be required and that staff will need additional training on the risks associated with COVID-19 and the need for appropriate personal protective equipment. Posting the area with general facts about COVID-19 and the need for each user to play an active role in public safety is also encouraged.
Sample Durham Regional Health Department Release