COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This past week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine decided to leave parks open but closed playgrounds citing them as a place where COVID-19 could easily spread.
“We’re recreation and parks, we serve as a gathering place,” said Sophia Fifner, community relations chief for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. “We so understand the importance of getting outside, especially during a stay at home order, but when they are outside make sure they are doing so in a very safe manner.”
The Recreation and Parks Department is all about promoting health. These days, that’s a little different than usual with the department keeping people off playground equipment and basketball courts.
“We’ll be taking down the hoops throughout central Ohio making sure we aren’t promoting playing basketball or playing on our courts,” Fifner explained. “We want to keep our youngest residents safe so we’ll be taping up our playgrounds as well.”
Fifner also wanted to remind residents that recreational equipment comes in many sizes.
“We have exercise equipment for adults that we don’t want folks utilizing because it will promote community spread,” she said. “We don’t want folks touching park benches or picnic tables. All of these surfaces are surfaces that can promote the spread of COVID-19.”
While the playground equipment and basketball courts are off limits, that doesn’t mean the parks are closed.
“We want folks to focus on nature and their mental and physical health,” Fifner said. “But we also want to make sure folks are safe.”
The Recreation and Parks Department encourages residents to use the public trails throughout the city as long as they keep six feet of distance between each other to stop the spread.