Conservation areas have reopened in Hamilton, and it’s a sign of slowly easing restrictions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hamilton Conservation Authority has also reopened its conservation areas for “passive use.” That means people can use the areas and trails — including parking lots — but the benches, picnic tables, washrooms and other amenities are closed.
Dundas Peak, Spencer Gorge, Devil’s Punchbowl and Tiffany Falls remain closed “due to their limited size and capacity to physical distance,” the HCA says. Camping and marinas will open when the province says so, and waterfalls and escarpment areas will reopen last.
Areas reopening May 13 include Christie Lake, Dundas Valley, Eramosa Karst, Fifty Point and Westfield Heritage Village. People still have to stay two metres apart at all times from people they don’t live with. Visitors also can’t meet up with friends or other groups, or walk pets without leashes.
The move comes days after HCA reopened local rail trails, and the city reopened the Waterfront Trail as part of an effort called Hamilton Reopens. People should keep their distance and only gather with people who also live with them, the city says, and even then, it should be groups of no more than five.
Playground equipment, benches, sports fields are still closed. So are the escarpment stairs and Albion Falls.
Burlington, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk trails are also open.
Hamilton has 490 COVID-19 cases Tuesday (485 confirmed, five probable). The city saw a handful of tests that showed false positives, including 10 at Macassa Lodge. Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, said Monday that it was upsetting and stressful for people there.
The city says the 490 total excludes all false positives.
Twenty-four people have died and 360 have recovered.
There are outbreaks at Grace Villa (two staff cases), the Village of Wentworth Heights (one staff case), Extendicare Hamilton (one staff), Arbour Creek Care Centre (one staff), Blackadar Continuing Care Centre (one staff), The Rosslyn (four residents), Idlewyld Manor (one resident), Regina Gardens (two staff), Wentworth Lodge (no current cases), Mission Services Inasmuch House (one staff), Heritage Green Nursing Home (no current cases) and Dundurn Place Care Centre (10 residents and three staff).
St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton has six COVID-19 patients and Hamilton Health Sciences has 13.
Brant/Brantford has had 102 cases for the last three days. Of those, three have died and 89 have recovered. Six people are in the hospital.
Haldimand and Norfolk counties have 201 cases, the same as Monday and up from 199 on Sunday. Of those, 75 have recovered and 30 have died.
Nine patients have tested positive at Haldimand War Memorial Hospital in Dunnville. Twelve are waiting for results.
Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe says since the pandemic started, it has never had more than five COVID-19 patients at a time. West Haldimand General Hospital in Hagersville says it has never had more than 10.
Halton has 585 cases (517 confirmed, 67 suspected), which is an increase of three since Monday. Of those, 451 have recovered and 24 have died.
One more person in Burlington has tested positive for a total of 112 cases 97 confirmed, 15 probable). Seven people have died and 89 have recovered.
Niagara has 561 confirmed cases, an increase of two from Monday, and 412 have recovered. Fifty-four people have died and 95 cases are active. Health-care workers account for 22.6 per cent of all cases.
There are outbreaks at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines and Greater Niagara hospitals, Henley House in St. Catharines, Lundy Manor in Niagara Falls, and Royal Rose Place and Seasons Welland in Welland.