City to secure playgrounds, exercise equipment in parks amid pandemic

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A homemade sign on a playground in Wyman Park discourages people from using the equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Brandon Weigel.

While city parks remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, Baltimoreans are advised not to use playgrounds and other high-contact equipment because their surfaces could contain the disease.

And those park features do not allow people to practice social distancing guidelines, which advise people to have six feet of separation when out in public.

Saying that he saw too many people using playgrounds and exercise equipment in city parks, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young asked the Department of Recreation & Parks to secure sites across the city.

“Our staff will continue to make every effort to ensure residents can stay fit and active,” Young said in a statement.

Whitney Clemmons Brown, public relations officer for Rec & Parks, said crews will wrap equipment with snow fencing and lock it in place. Swings at playgrounds will be wrapped around the top bar and shrink wrapped.

The department previously removed basketball backboards and tennis nets and posted signs on playground equipment to promote social distancing as residents use the parks to get exercise during the ongoing stay-at-home order.

Rec & Parks oversees 145 playgrounds across the city.

The continued use of playgrounds has been particularly exasperating for 11th District Councilman Eric Costello, who has made several public pleas since last month for people to follow the rules.

On April 6, he wrote of an encounter in Federal Hill Park with a parent who was allowing their kid to play on the playground.

“I am going to pull my hair out if I have to talk to one more parent watching their kid play on playground equipment,” he posted. “What is so difficult to understand? The rules are simple.”

Brandon Weigel

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