Coronavirus: Winnipeg parks busy, but not unruly

Canada

Winnipeg parks did not appear packed Sunday, but dozens of people and families set up in Assiniboine Park on the first weekend of relaxed limits on the number of people allowed at social gatherings.

Up to 50 people are now allowed to gather outdoors, while 25 people can gather indoors — the new limits came into effect Friday, after the province’s top public health official, Dr. Brent Roussin, announced Wednesday aspects of the second phase of Manitoba’s reopening plan would be pushed ahead of the previously-announced time frame of June 4.

READ MORE: Senior care homes, restaurants fined for breaking Manitoba Health coronavirus rules

Retired couple Pearl and Larry Friesen were happy to be out in public again Sunday, as they sat in the shade at a picnic table in Assiniboine Park.

“This feels amazing just to be out and about and have freedom,” she said.

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Particularly so for her.

“It’s so freeing, it’s not just been two months, it’s been six months because I just came through cancer treatment, so that meant isolation,” Pearl Friesen said. “Then we added (COVID-19) to the end of it.”

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It felt freeing for her to watch the Minorca family — adult siblings, their partners and kids — have a picnic across the grass.

“It is heartwarming to see people actually getting together and enjoying each other, families; it also brings to mind the fact that, I guess, we haven’t been able to,” Pearl Friesen said. “The adult children we have here are essential workers working in hospitals.”

Rustom Minorca enjoyed playing catch with his siblings, while his daughter sat with her cousin at a picnic table under a canopy, eating a meal.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen my siblings,” Minorca said. “Two months.”

“It is good to see families loving on each other like this,” Pearl Frisen said later.

Although people flocked to Winnipeg’s parks this weekend, it appears they took physical distancing seriously.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Winnipeg ‘ambassadors’ watching for rule-breakers in city parks

The city’s “community ambassadors” — municipal employees tasked with educating people about physical distancing and public health protocols in city parks — only issued 90 physical distancing warnings Saturday, while bylaw officers issued no tickets, the latest available data shows.

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Bylaw officers have only issued four tickets since the program began in early April.

1:36 Gathering limit in Manitoba to relax this week

Gathering limit in Manitoba to relax this week

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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