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City closes playgrounds and basketball hoops, but not parks


The City of Rochester is shutting down all playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, and athletic fields in city parks.

The reason: too many adults have been playing pickup basketball, rugby, and soccer games in city parks, and too many kids are playing on city playgrounds, despite directives from health officials to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Lovely Warren announced the closures on Friday. When people gather in parks or use public equipment, she said, they put themselves and others at risk of exposure to the virus.

“At this point in time, public health is our number one concern,” Warren said.

Parks will not be closed, and the mayor encouraged residents to go on walks, ride bikes, or engage in other forms of solitary exercise. City crews will be dismantling some exercise equipment and taking down basketball hoops.

Warren said the city doesn’t want to use a heavy hand and fine people for violating closures, but she also made it clear the city will take stronger action — including park closures — if need be to limit people congregating in groups.

Other cities have taken similar actions. In Toronto, for instance, the city encased public basketball hoops in plastic wrapped in yellow “caution” tape.

“I understand how difficult it is to keep kids entertained and how hard it is to be cooped up at home,” Warren said. “But this virus lives on hard surfaces. Your kids and loved ones can get sick from being on the same playground as someone who has the virus and was playing there three days ago. You or your child can bring the virus home. We all need to be smarter and safer.”