(Photo by Clickhead)

On Friday, March 20th, the District of Saanich joined several Greater Victoria municipalities in temporarily closing all public playgrounds in order to further encourage social distancing measures ordered by the provincial health officer amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

However over the weekend, multiple people were seen defying these measures and occupying Saanich playgrounds in spite of posted signage indicating their closure.

As a result, Saanich Police joins countless other authorities in issuing a public reminder to take this pandemic seriously and practice social distancing in order to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

“We were very concerned to see people gathering at parks in Saanich over the week-end, as they disregarded the posted signs indicating they were closed. We can and must do better,” reads the advisory.

They reiterate the fact that young people can suffer serious symptoms if they contract COVID-19, not to mention that even those who are asymptomatic are at risk of transmitting the virus to those more vulnerable.

A graph issued by the B.C. Ministry of Health on Friday shows that the age group most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the province is 50 – 59 years but also demonstrates how people aged between 20 – 40 years old are not immune to the virus.

(B.C. Ministry of Health)

Saanich Police is reminding the public of the following:

  • Social Distancing must be followed, as it is proven to be one of the most effective ways
    to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.
  • Currently, ALL playgrounds in Saanich are CLOSED and people are reminded to avoid
    them. They are not safe places for you or your families to gather at.
  • In addition, all outdoor facilities such as lacrosse boxes, tennis courts, basket and sports
    courts are also now closed.

On Sunday, neighbouring Victoria Police issued a similar advisory after being called to break up a house party in Esquimalt.

When officers arrived, they found a group of around 10 people, aged 18 to 24 years old, having a house party and not practicing social distancing directives.

Police also answered calls about beach fire parties and other noise complaints.

At the moment, police departments have not been authorized to issue fines or arrest people for not following social distancing measures ordered by provincial and federal authorities, in which people are asked to maintain at least one to two metres of distance between each other.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

Currently there are 472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. including 39 on Vancouver Island.

The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic.

Earlier this week, B.C. joined Alberta and Ontario in declaring a public health emergency in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency to support the health ministry’s public health emergency.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C.

Canada has tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.

U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule, and non-essential travel between U.S. and Canada will be temporarily banned by March 21st. Moreover international flights have now been restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 408,914.

Nearly 18,300 people have died from the illness and 107,073 have made a full recovery.

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