Dickinson playgrounds closed amid COVID-19 pandemic
City parks remain open to the public, however the Dickinson Parks and Recreation Department have closed all playgrounds and park workout stations amid coronavirus social distancing guidelines.
Despite instructions from federal, state, and local officials to stay at home and avoid crowds many public parks have become hotbeds for public interactions, according to the Center for Disease Control.
As people continue to visit local parks in large numbers, gathering in parking lots, bathrooms, and popular spots despite guidelines to maintain a social distance from other people, cities across the United States are closing parks and playgrounds.
The closures in Dickinson follow The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department’s recent move to close all state park and recreation buildings following guidelines set by federal, state and local authorities to promote social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We are encouraging everyone to get out of their houses and enjoy the outdoors and spaces provided at a physical distance of six feet or more from one another,” Matt Mack, with the Dickinson Parks and Recreation department, said.
The implemented closures by the department caught many residents off-guard as the decision came without prior notice or official statement by the department in the media or online, with many only becoming aware of the decision after visiting one of the parks.
Online photos of signage and yellow barrier tape surrounding playgrounds circulated showing empty playgrounds across Dickinson. The signage at the various parks read, “Playground closure. Attention: This playground is closed to the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate your patience in this matter.”
The decision to close playgrounds and park workout stations follows initiatives implemented by other parks and recreation departments across the Midwest and comes after a 14th individual in Stark County was confirmed to have COVID-19.
“The parks are still open, the playground equipment is not,” Mack said. “All Parks and Recreation Districts across the nation have implemented this, with some Park Districts completely closing their parks based on local situations.”
Mack continued, “Dickinson Parks and Recreation is doing what we can to eliminate areas that could potentially cause a rapid spread of COVID-19. Information published by medical journals suggest the virus can live on various surfaces that are located in our parks for up to 72 hours.”