SUDBURY -- Community gardens in Greater Sudbury can open, the city announced Thursday, after the province announced they would be permitted to operate under several restrictions.

A news release described the gardens as "an essential source of fresh food for some individuals and families, including those who face food insecurity."

“We are pleased that the province has amended the emergency order and is permitting the use of community gardens,” Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger is quoted as saying in the news release.

“The gardens are an essential source of fresh food, and it’s great news that we were able to establish procedures for safely opening and accessing the sites again.”

Public Health Sudbury & Districts has provided rules gardens will have to follow in order to operate, which have been reviewed with Sudbury Shared Harvest. They include:

- Access to the gardens is limited to registered garden members, staff and volunteers, and people are to enter for planting, maintenance and harvesting only.

- A garden schedule will be developed, including staggered arrival and departure times, to allow a safe number of people in the garden at any time and ensure physical distancing.

- When it comes to cleaning and disinfecting, garden users will be encouraged to wash their hands upon entering and leaving the garden, carry wet wipes and/or a washcloth and warm, soapy water in a thermos for handwashing, and bring their own hand sanitizer.

- Frequently touched surfaces, such as water spigots, hoses, handles, and padlocks will be required to be cleaned and disinfected twice daily.

"A reminder that all other park amenities remain temporarily closed to the public," the release said. "This includes all play structures and equipment, splash pads and spray parks, outdoor fitness equipment, washroom facilities, fieldhouses, youth centres and other parks facilities.

"The city is evaluating details related to the province’s recent announcement on the re-opening of other outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities, courts and off-leash dog parks."

To learn more about affected city services, visit the city's website