COVID-19: Safe Use of Urban Parks and Green Spaces During Gradual Lockdown Lifting
The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines to support the use of parks and green spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reviews the main health benefits of green spaces and the basic principles to be respected to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in these areas. The document also presents promising initiatives put forward by municipalities in Québec, Canada and elsewhere in the world aimed at promoting the safe and optimal use of parks and green spaces. Finally, some relevant resources that can support the development of parks and green spaces by facilitating consideration of elements that are key to achieving this aim are listed.
- It is essential to make parks and green spaces accessible to the public, especially in the context of a pandemic lockdown, since they represent one of the few safe places where people can engage in a variety of physical and social activities.
- Parks and green spaces improve many dimensions of physical and mental health.
- Parks and green spaces provides cool islands during periods of extreme heat.
- The recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus when visiting parks and green spaces are as follows:
- Do not go to parks and green spaces if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, if you are awaiting a test or test result, if you are in home isolation, or if you have just returned from a trip;
- Maintain a distance of two metres between people from different households in parks and green spaces as a precaution;
- Practice respiratory etiquette;
- It is advisable to wear a face covering if a physical distance of two metres may be difficult to maintain;
- Wash your hands often or after touching parks and green spaces furniture and facilities .
- There are some basic elements that can encourage the use and attendance of parks and green spaces; these are as follows:
- Geographic accessibility;
- Safe design;
- The availability of activities that invite the use of facilities by different population groups.
- In addition to the previous basic elements, it is advisable to implement certain measures and arrangements which encourage physical distancing and reduce the risk of transmission:
- Clean public facilities;
- Communicate clearly and simply the guidelines related to hygiene, maintenance of physical distance and the use of spaces;
- Provide access to hygienic sanitary facilities by requiring that physical distance be maintained (e.g., waiting in line);
- Modify facilities, furniture and rules of use;
- Designate small areas for use by a family bubble;
- Improve accessibility to parks and green spaces;
- Adopt specific measures for children.
It is important to remember that it is essential that parks and green spaces be equitably accessible, so that the entire population can benefit from them.