Toronto residents shocked to find some outdoor amenities padlocked and bagged amid stay-at-home order

TORONTO — Some Toronto residents are voicing their frustration on social media after finding padlocks and bags blocking off basketball nets and other amenities amid the second COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

It comes after the Ontario government ordered cities across the province to shut down outdoor recreational amenities, including soccer fields, basketball nets and tennis courts.

The province initially ordered the closure of playgrounds too, but quickly went back on that move following an outcry from health experts and parents, who cited evidence that there is a much lower risk of COVID-19 transmission outside.

While the closure of other outdoor amenities did not receive the same backlash, some people in Toronto are now saying that measures to block off these amenities with bags and padlocks are excessive, and unnecessary.

Images shared on social media show bags and padlocks blocking off basketball nets and disc golf baskets, as well as other amenities, in Toronto parks, but the City of Toronto has said that it’s not responsible for the coverings.

In a statement, the City of Toronto said it has chosen not to block off or remove basketball nets and other amenities and, instead, have placed signs to advise the public of the closures.

“The city will enforce provincial orders when appropriate, but it didn’t actively remove basketball nets, padlock or bag basketball hoops on city property,” a spokesperson for the city told CTV News Toronto.

“Where possible, gates were locked at amenities, such as tennis courts, and signage was erected advising of the closure under provincial order. City staff have not been instructed to bag any city-owned disc golf baskets.”

The city said that staff would remove coverings if discovered, but noted that schools and private property may have similar amenities that are managed differently.

Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday that its staff have been covering and removing basketball nets on their property.

“The Government of Ontario was very clear that all outdoor recreational amenities such as basketball courts, soccer fields, should be closed during this order,” Bird said. “In the cases of basketball courts, for example, we have removed nets where that’s possible, and where it’s not possible, we’ve wrapped them in plastic.”

“Our understanding from the provincial government is that these amenities are to be closed. So taking that order from the provincial government, we are closing these outdoor amenities.”

He said a photo widely shared on social media showing a padlocked basketball net at Parkdale Collegiate Institute may be an “isolated situation” and that most of the time the board uses “heavy plastic.”

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