COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The City of Columbus wants people to enjoy the nearly 400 parks and 230 miles of trails it has to offer, but it’s asking you to do so responsibly by maintaining social distancing guidelines.
According to the city, people using Antrim Park and parts of the Olentangy Trail are not doing a good enough job at maintaining social distancing and that could cause them to restrict access to those amenities.
“If we do see high congregation of individuals or people, we will consider closing additional facilities,” said Sophia Fifner, the Community Relations Chief for Columbus Recreation and Parks. “That’s not an option we want to do, but we will do everything we can as a department to make sure that we’re doing our part in keeping folks safe and healthy.”
The department is asking for residents to follow some simple do’s and don’ts.
“If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you stay home,” Fifner said. “If you are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please feel free to use our trails but utilize your face mask while you’re doing so.”
People riding bikes are asked to slow down, and both cyclists and runners are being asked to announce to people when you are approaching them from behind so they can step off of paths and provide you adequate distance to pass safely.
Additionally, they do not want people using playground equipment, permanent exercise stations, picnic tables or benches at this time. Group sports at the parks are also forbidden, as is using basketball, disc golf and tennis courts.
“We are doing everything we can as a city to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Fifner said. “It’s going to take an effort from every single resident to make sure we flatten that curve.”
People out for a walk or a bike ride are expressing concern over the prospect of losing access to the trails and park if people don’t properly practice social distancing.
“We don’t want to ruin this for ourselves and for everybody for that matter,” said Shane Jackson from Powell. “Right now, this is like one of the only escapes we have and if they shut this down, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Mary Beth Powell, a teacher walking on the Olentangy Trail on Friday, was also concerned.
“Walking in the neighborhoods are nice,” Powell said. “But I think that being able to really see nature and the stream and things like that just make it feel like some sense of normalcy.”