REGINA -- It will still be weeks until playgrounds and other activities can reopen in Saskatchewan.

“When we were driving home Emily said to me, she said, that’s really great that stores are opening up but why isn’t anything fun opening,” says Christine Boyd, a mother of three who lives across from a park in the Cathedral neighbourhood.

Due to COVID-19, the playground is off limits, as are many other child friendly activities.

“Sure they would love to jump across the street and go to the park but we’re found other ways to entertain ourselves,” admits Boyd, who says they’ve been enjoying their backyard.

A few kilometres away, the North Central Community Association (NCCA) usually runs free basketball and soccer programming at the Mamaweyatitan Centre. However everything has been sidelined due to the pandemic.

Murray Giesbrecht is the executive director of the NCCA, and says the importance of these programs can’t be discounted.

“I would say they’re critical, it really gives people an opportunity to participate in something positive, proactive, build relationships with one another that’s a very important part of the programming,” said Giesbrecht.

Gyms and Fitness facilities will be reopening in phase three, under the premise that they promote physical and mental wellbeing. However, playgrounds and swimming pools will not reopen until phase four, which date is still to be determined.

As a result, an online petition started in Regina is asking the government to include playgrounds in Phase 3 of the re-opening plan. As of Friday, the petition had already surpassed 1000 signatures.

However the province says the use of Municipal playgrounds are still closed, but the use of greenspace is allowed.

“Parks are a great destination,” says Giesbrecht, who recognizes many families don’t have access to a backyard. “That’s a place that we can enjoy that’s free of charge that you can maintain some social distancing.”

The size of outdoor gatherings will increase from 10 to 30 people in phase three, enough to field a soccer or baseball team. But there are health risks.

“That requires people to be in very close proximity,” notes Giesbrecht. “A lot of these activities and sports, it’s still very difficult to maintain some distance with.”

Boyd is also content waiting until the government and health officials feel it’s safe enough to return to playgrounds. She hopes it’s an active discussion among politicians.

“I certainly hope that kids are on their minds as included as citizens who have mental health and well being to consider, but I guess they’ll open when they open.”