Island recreation centres, municipal offices close to limit virus spread

Municipalities ramped up efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 by shuttering facilities across Vancouver Island on Tuesday.

Esquimalt announced that it was closing its recreation centre and the Archie Browning Sports Centre as of 10:30 p.m. Memberships will be put on hold and refunds issued for programs and rentals.

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The township hopes to continue running its spring-break camps for kids until March 27, but acknowledged that could change as new information becomes available.

“We take the safety of our staff and the public seriously and are constantly balancing community needs with the necessary prudence the situation requires,” Mayor Barb Desjardins said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Colwood announced that people can access city hall by appointment only, and public meetings have been suspended as the city shifts to holding council meetings online.

As well, West Shore Parks and Recreation closed at the end of the day until further notice, although spring-break camps will continue until Friday.

The Capital Regional District, meanwhile, announced the closure of its recreation facilities, including Panorama, Sooke Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission and Salt Spring Island Parks and Recreation Commission.

Day camps will continue to run until 5 p.m. Friday, but child-minding services will not be provided, the CRD said.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District, which closed its recreation and community centres Monday, shut down its administration offices Tuesday until further notice.

The move was made in conjunction with the municipalities of Duncan, Ladysmith, North Cowichan and Lake Cowichan, all of which closed their offices to the public as well.

Campbell River took similar steps, closing access to all public buildings except for the airport and the RCMP detachment.

“Public health is our top priority and we are making these changes to help slow and limit the spread of the virus,” said Deborah Sargent, city manager.

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