Large increases in foot traffic to local parks have forced parks departments to take steps to enforce social distancing guidelines by removing certain athletic equipment to prevent crowds.
As the coronavirus crisis temporarily keeps residents mostly in their homes, many are using parks and public recreation areas to get some time outdoors. Local departments have received numerous reports of residents using playground equipment and also participating in team sports. Officials have been reminding residents that social distancing is just as important in outdoor areas as it is in more confined spaces.
Health experts warn that COVID-19 can remain on surfaces, and also strongly advice social distancing to prevent transmission. In response to reports of residents using playground and sports equipment, and in an effort to avoid the formation of crowds at local parks, officials are temporarily removing equipment such as tennis court and basketball nets, as well as closing access to playgrounds.
From coverage in WTOP:
“We try not to do that except on the courts where we’re getting reports about pickup games going on or other large crowds of people gathering,” said Casey Anderson, the chair of the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.
“We’re fencing off some playgrounds where we’re having repeated problems with kids meeting and climbing all over the equipment,” he added. “We can’t really allow that kind of thing.”
“There are a couple of places in Bethesda and Silver Spring and Takoma Park, where it seems that people are all congregating in exactly the same location,” Anderson said.
He said it’s imperative people spread out and keep moving.
“It’s essential if we’re going to get through this experience with our mental, as well as our physical health intact. People need to have an outlet, and we want to be able to provide that,” Anderson said.
“But people just need to do their part and be safe.”