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Canadian News Jan 27, 2021 11:22 AM EST

Toronto bans out-of-town residents from outdoor skating rinks

The city had already previously required that anyone seeking to make use of the city's outdoor skating rinks would be required to book appointments online

Toronto bans out-of-town residents from outdoor skating rinks
Noah David Alter Toronto

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Toronto's department of Parks, Forestry and Recreation announced on Tuesday that non-Torontonians will be banned from making use of the city's outdoor skating rinks, BlogTO reports.

The city had already previously required that anyone seeking to make use of the city's outdoor skating rinks would be required to book appointments online as a measure to combat the spread of coronavirus. They did not ban out-of-town residents from the rinks, however, leading to some rink users to file complaints.

As a result, some 18,000 people from outside the city have booked appointments to use of the skating rinks despite warnings against interregional travel by the Ontario government. The number represents up three percent of bookings, although only half of those bookings were ever put to use.

In response, non-residents are being temporarily banned from booking appointments to use the rinks.

Under coronavirus rules, residents of Toronto must book appointments for hour-long time slots to make use of any of the city's 54 skating rinks. Only 25 people are allowed to use the rinks at a given time.

Some cities, such as neighbouring Vaughan, have entirely closed their skating rinks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Toronto, however, has insisted that its residents should have limited access to skating during the winter.

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said in an interview last week that despite the restricted access to skating rinks, residents are still going there unauthorized after hours to make use of the recreational sites.

"Attempting to access and/or use outdoor rinks outside normal operating hours is both illegal and dangerous. Generally, usage has been in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and requirements," Pegg said last week.

"However, this weekend we experienced and responded to a number of issues that included unauthorized after-hours usage, shinny hockey play, exceeding the capacity limits on the ice, open alcohol, groups loitering off the ice, insufficient physical distancing, not wearing masks, skaters not wanting to register or provide the required contact tracing information, and damage to property when accessing ice after hours," he further claimed.

Pegg noted that a number of city employees were allegedly recipient to threatening behaviour when attempting to force people off the ice.

Despite skyrocketing levels of gun violence and homicides in recent years, Pegg says that police have spent their time providing enhanced patrols of at least seven skating rinks in the city of Toronto.

It is unclear what evidence there is to designate outdoor skating rinks as a source of coronavirus transmission.

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