Hamilton's city-run rec centres, pools likely to open July 26


The City of Hamilton will take some time to check all the boxes before it reopens city-run facilities during Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening.

The province moves into the next phase of reopening, officially, at 12:01 a.m. on Friday (July 16). On Monday, Paul Johnson, the director of Hamilton’s emergency operations centre, said that indoor pools, recreation centres and seniors centres will likely open about 10 days later. The rationale Johnson said was that waiting would grant the city time for staff training and enable it to open everything simultaneously.

“We’re really targeting, for most of our facilities -- these would be recreation centres, seniors’ centres, indoor pools -- to be open for July 26,” Johnson said in a media briefing on Monday. “That gives us time to do all the inspections on the buildings and to make sure our staff are brought back and are fully trained. We’d rather do that all at once instead of bleeding it out over a number of weeks. 

“There will be opportunities for swim lessons in August, and many more opportunities for lane swims. We will, of course, have some restrictions on the number of people who can be in the facilities.”

Theatres, movie theatres, privately operated fitness facilities and indoor dining will all be allowed as of Friday. Ontario is actually entering Step 3 five days earlier than the Ontario Science Table had recommended. The advisory group had stated Ontario needed to spend a minimum of 21 days in each phase of its reopening.

That will be the case with Step 3. Vaccine coverage will determine when restrictions are eased further. Ontario will need to be at 80 per cent first-dose coverage and 75 per cent vaccine series completion among its eligible population -- with no public health unit under 70 per cent of the eligible having received two doses -- before moving to the next step.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger emphasized that while having more to do is a good thing, people still need to wear masks over their noses and mouths in shared spaces, and also practise social distancing.

“I'm comfortable with where we are at Step 3,” Eisenberger said. “But some of the larger gatherings that are being contemplated, like sporting events and concerts, I think those larger numbers are somewhat more problematic.

“The message still needs to be that people need to protect themselves when they're attending these events. Physical distancing and masking will still need to be practised when we're participating in these events because there is still an opportunity to spread the virus, and no one will know who is vaccinated and unvaccinated. Continuing to protect oneself will still be part of any events that might come in the near future.”

Other parts of Canada, most notably Alberta, have lifted their mask mandates. Johnson said it is understandable that someone might perceive the loosening of COVID-19 protocols as a removal of all protocols, but that’s simply not the case.

“What we cannot have is people saying, ‘I gotta get rid of my mask now,’ ” he said.

Hamilton operates over more than 20 pools and recreation centres across the city.

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