Len MacCharles (right), Nelson’s director of emergency management as well as the city’s fire chief, says first responders are using extra personal protective equipment on the job. Photo: Tyler Harper

Nelson parks to stay open for now

The city’s director of emergency management describes the park facilities’ status as ‘wait and see’

Playgrounds in Nelson are closed, but parks will remain open for the time being.

Len MacCharles, Nelson’s director of emergency management, says city staff are keeping an eye on how people congregate at parks and use outdoor recreation facilities such as the skate park in Rosemont to control the spread of COVID-19.

“By far the majority of people in town are following proper social distancing,” said MacCharles on Monday. “At this time we’re going to continue to educate. We’ll actually have staff from time to time going into the park and if need be reminding people to social distance outside of family groups.”

The city had already taped off municipal playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment, and has said it isn’t disinfecting tables or benches.

Provincial health doctor Bonnie Henry, meanwhile, has encouraged outdoor activity provided people stay two metres apart.

Parks Canada meanwhile announced Tuesday it was closing vehicle access to national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas.

Related: Nelson and COVID-19: everything you need to know

MacCharles also provided an update on how first responders are adjusting to the outbreak.

He said firefighters and Nelson Police Department officers are still on the job, but wearing additional personal protective equipment. If someone is either a confirmed or suspected case of infection, MacCharles said responders will wear coveralls and face shields.

Otherwise, protective glasses, N95 masks and nitrile medical gloves are being used regularly. MacCharles also said first responders are taking guidance from BC Ambulance when taking medical calls.

“[We] will work to make actual patient contact as little as possible and still do the job we need to do.”

MacCharles, who is also Nelson’s fire chief, said the fire department has suspended volunteer training, is limiting use of its auxiliary force, and for the time being isn’t providing extra services such as fire inspections.

“For the most part we’re carrying on with the essential part of our service. If people have questions about fire safety, anything to do with safety or health, we’re willing to take that call and if need be we’re willing to go out and provide that service.”

MacCharles said anyone in need of regular updates from the city should visit its COVID-19 page at nelson.ca.


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