Push to reopen outdoor sports facilities

Top News | Angel Kwan 17 Feb 2020

More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the reopening of outdoor sports facilities.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has closed numerous facilities - including all sports centers, sports grounds, grass pitches and artificial turf football pitches - since the end of January to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

But Happy Valley district councillor Clara Cheung said she received complaints about the closure of the Happy Valley Playground, as residents now do not have a place to exercise and get some fresh air.

"Without the playground, they [residents] can only either stay at home or go to the streets that are crowded," she said.

Cheung suggested that the government handle the situation more flexibly, such as allowing the public access to the jogging tracks beside the closed grass pitches.

Cheung and another Wan Chai district councillor, Gary Li Wing-choi, started the online petition on February 13, urging the LCSD to reopen outdoor sports fields as soon as possible.

"In case of any shortage of manpower, the LCSD should still partly reopen these venues, such as running tracks and not-for-rental outdoor space," said the petition, which collected 1,070 signatures as of 5.30pm yesterday.

They plan to discuss the matter with other Wan Chai district councillors at a special meeting tomorrow before handing it over to the LCSD.

Cheung also raised concerns that football teams were forced to stop their training schedule due to the suspension of grass pitch facilities.

She suggested that the government consider opening the grass pitches but not the spectator stands, and clean the facilities properly before and after use.

"The government should think of some ways to let people maintain normal lives even during the epidemic," she added.

The LCSD announced on Friday that various cultural and leisure facilities will continue to be temporarily closed and recreational, sports and cultural programs will be canceled until March 2.

A spokesman said such closure of venues and cancellation of programs can help people avoid interacting, reduce chances of social gatherings before and after participating in activities, and so reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the community.

angel.kwan@singtaonewscorp.com

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