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Don't call the police if you notice people violating playground ban: B.C. Ministry of Health

It's fine to call foul if you see groups on your local playground - but you need to know who to call to get it handled
A North Vancouver resident snapped this photo of people playing basketball at Queen Mary Community Elementary last night, after all North Shore municipalities had announced they were closing playgrounds to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Photo courtesy Matt Blair

A North Vancouver resident is calling foul after noticing a large group of people playing basketball at a local elementary school even after all North Shore municipalities announced yesterday they were closing playgrounds to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Matt Blair and his wife were driving past Queen Mary Community Elementary on West 13th Street after 7 p.m. on Friday night when they noticed upwards of 20 people who appeared to be in their late teens and early 20s playing basketball.

“It’s pretty widespread knowledge we should be avoiding public gatherings,” said Blair, who added several other passersby observed the sports gathering and also expressed their displeasure. “There’s either a miscommunication or these people were in blatant disregard of the provincial ruling.”

Many B.C. municipalities announced on Thursday and Friday they would be closing public playgrounds following the verbal order of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to limit public gatherings and practice social distancing. curb the spread of novel coronavirus.

North Vancouver School District has also closed all of its playgrounds until further notice.

Some signs have already been erected around the North Shore informing people that specific play spaces and playgrounds were closed until further notice.

Blair decided to raise the alarm because he wants more people in the community to know about the ban on large gatherings and would like the public to have more direction about what to do if they noticed people violating the rules in the future.

If someone notices people violating the playground ban, their first call shouldn’t be to local police, according to Stephen May, a spokesman for B.C.’s Ministry of Health.

“At this point, the best thing to do would be to contact the local health authority or the local municipality,” said May.

If someone does have concerns about a public gathering they believe is in contravention of the directive from the provincial health authority, they can contact their local health officer online to report it.

After contacting Vancouver Coastal Health or the municipality, they will then decide if it’s appropriate to bring the police into the fold, said May.

“We’re working on ways to try to get it a little more streamlined, but at this point … we are also just appealing to the better nature and civic duty of all people around here,” said May.

Sgt. Peter DeVries, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman, said the detachment was urging everyone to follow the direction of the provincial health officer, which means keeping gatherings to a minimum and staying away from playgrounds.

“Our primary concern is for the safety of the public and we will support the provincial health officer to ensure the safety of people in North Van,” said DeVries.

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