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Central Newfoundland towns continue to eye safety even as pandemic numbers trend downward

Nicholas Mercer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The province’s physical distancing measures are starting to yield results when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald announced another day with no new cases of the COVID-19 in the province. That keeps the provincial number at 258 total cases.

In the last 10 days, there have been just two new cases reported.

It is news that is welcomed by municipal leaders around the province, as they may soon be able to ease some of the restrictions they’ve placed on access to playgrounds, walking trails and parks.

“If the optimism continues, we anticipate opening some of the trails and parks with some restrictions,” said Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Barry Manuel.

On March 30, the Central Newfoundland town made the decision to close all of its parks, playgrounds, court facilities and trails in an effort to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Not every park in Grand Falls-Windsor will be opened at once. Manuel anticipates it to be a measured approached on the town’s part and it will happen in phases.

Despite what is sure to be welcome news to regular users of those facilities, Manuel cautioned that any moves to reopen parks and trails is dependent on how things are going provincially with regard to the spread of the coronavirus.

“As soon as we can get things done safely, then we will start doing that,” said Manuel. “It is still going to be dependent on people’s adherence to rules and guidelines, and their co-operation.”

At the outset of the pandemic, the Town of Gander didn’t make the move to restrict access to any town facilities.

They did encourage residents to discontinue their use of playgrounds and other recreation facilities. If residents wanted to use the popular Cobb’s Pond Rotary Park trail, the town asked them to use physical distancing measures when doing so.

These measures include travelling in one direction only and keeping six feet apart.

Like Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander is encouraged by the low number of new cases in the last several days and recognizes there is still a need to maintain public health measures.

“The numbers are trending in the right direction, but that doesn’t take responsibility off us to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Gander Mayor Percy Farwell. “As a municipality, we are advocating the restrictions that the province has put in place.”

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Central Newfoundland for Saltwire Network.

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