Minneapolis tightens coronavirus restrictions with move to close fields, playgrounds, other public areas

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will be closing all athletic fields, courts, playgrounds and skate parks by Friday in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The city also plans to remove or block basketball rims, take down tennis and volleyball nets, and post closed signs for the soccer fields, playgrounds and skate parks.

“This is an issue that we’re consistently seeing. The fact is that some park spaces have been built to provide for congregating,” Board President Jono Cowgill said, according to The Star Tribune. “We need to take steps now to ensure that people are staying safe as best they can.”

In a statement to The Tribune, Board Superintendent Al Bangoura claimed the strict measures were needed to disincentive the public from defying social distancing practices.

“We’re taking this necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of residents and their families,” he explained. “We have put a lot of effort into educating and encouraging social distancing, but we continue to see park visitors gathering during this national health crisis.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey reportedly supports the indefinite closures, as well, and said sacrificing summer was a small price to pay to save lives.

“We’d rather ruin summer and save lives than save summer and ruin lives,” he told The Tribune.

This news comes just two days after Minnesota lifted restrictions on industrial, manufacturing and office-based businesses that are not “customer-facing.” They were allowed to reopen on Sunday.

The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 1 million Tuesday, while the number of deaths topped 57,000.

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