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Health Unit recommends staying active while keeping safe this winter

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is recommending the public stay active this winter, but while doing so safely. 

Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, a public health physician for the Health Unit says it’s important to stay active for physical and mental health, but imperative that COVID-19 protocols are still followed. 

“When we’re talking about winter sports or really anything…public health messaging is largely the same,” she explained. 

Avoiding interactions with members outside your household, regular hand-washing, physical distancing and face masks are all recommended by Dr. Zimbalatti and the Health Unit, even while partaking in outdoor winter activities. 

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“We do recommend physical activity still takes place, but that it’s conducted preferably in uncongested outdoor areas,” she noted. 

North Bay’s outdoor skating rinks will be opened this year, according to Gord Young, the city’s communications officer. 

Young says the rink buildings will not be opened, and portable washrooms will not be provided because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He adds the washroom at Lee Park will be open once the skating trail is operational. 

Despite having options for activities such as skating, Dr. Zimbalatti warns the risk of COVID-19 transmission remains high. 

“If you’re doing that sort of thing with members outside of your household, you’re still putting your skates on a bench side-by-side,” she said. “If we’re looking at participating on team sports and participating indoors, that does increase the risk of transmission.”

Dr. Zimbalatti does not recommend playing sports such as ice hockey with people outside your household as physical contact is “inevitable”. 

For other winter activities like snowshoeing, hiking, cross country skiing and snowmobiling, Dr. Zimbalatti says it’s important to think about what your physical capabilities are and what equipment you need in addition to following the protocols. 

“You do have to be prepared when you are doing activities in northern Ontario outdoors. We do encourage people for their physical and mental health to get outside and be active but also while following those public health messages,” she finished.

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