Skateboards, sports balls and recreation all got rolling again as locals flocked to reopened outdoor facilities starting last week.

Municipalities have begun opening outdoor recreational facilities with Ontario lifting COVID-19 restrictions May 19. The province allowed for certain facilities to open if proper distancing is followed, including outdoor courts and tracks.

Dysart et al began opening its facilities May 20, including its skate park, ball diamonds, basketball and tennis courts.

“It’s great,” tennis player Nico Haedicke said as he entered the courts May 21. “We’ve been anxious to get back out again. A place like this, it’s easy to socially distance, so we’re all for it. As long as everyone follows guidelines, we’ll be fine. Get us out there, get us exercise, get us off the couch.”

Other facilities opening included outdoor shelters, picnic areas and park benches. Algonquin Highlands also announced it’s reopening outdoor facilities and Highlands East said it would open them once signage is in place. Minden Hills has yet to make an announcement.

But playgrounds, beaches and outdoor fitness equipment remain closed. Group sizes at facilities are also still supposed to stay limited to five or fewer people per provincial order.

Skateboarder Joshua Donnelly welcomed the facilities opening after weeks of being unable to use them due to the pandemic.

“It means I can get back into shape. It’s hard to just sit aside for months and do nothing. So, now that they are open, everyone can go out, get their sunshine, get their daily activity,” Donnelly said.

Although physical distancing is still supposed to be in place, the openings also offer a chance to see others in person.

“It’s heartwarming,” Donnelly said. “Some people, you only talk to for sports. The fact that you get to see them again is good.”

Jan Haedicke, Nico’s brother, said he felt a sport such as tennis is safe because of the spacing involved. But although facilities have opened, he said things are still not the same.

“You have to be careful still. It’s not over. So, take precautions no matter what,” he said.

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