Twin Cities area parks slowly making changes for reopening

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At Ainsworth Park’s basketball court, something is missing. 

“I see nobody playing,” says Justin Marshall, a frequent visitor. “On a beautiful day like today, it’s kind of sad.”

The City of St. Louis Park is reinstalling basketball rims but at only one end of the court.

A safety measure being started just this week, to discourage team play and crowding on the court. 

“It's one of those things where you have no control over it, you know?” Marshall says. “Got to do what's best, and the best thing for the people. Stay safe, and wait 'til things get better."

Minneapolis Park athletic courts, fields and playgrounds to slowly reopen amid new 'stay safe' order

The warmer weather is here, but some restrictions at Minneapolis City parks remain for a short time longer. 

The gates of tennis courts are chained and locked securely, their nets tied up. 

Basketball rims have been blocked or removed. 

Playing fields and skate parks remain off-limits. 

But now, after nearly three weeks of restrictions, the Park and Recreation Board has decided on a slow but steady reversal. 

Park facilities will gradually reopen, some possibly as soon as Wednesday. 

“I am grateful the new executive order encourages outdoor recreation facilities be open for families and children,” said Park Superintendent Al Bangoura. “I urge all Minneapolis residents take the state guidelines seriously, take personal responsibility, and practice social distancing in parks to protect themselves and others.”

During the reopening, parks officials issued public guidelines:

  • Practice social distancing of at least six feet, except for members of the same family.
  • Group sports only among people living in the same household.
  • Some ‘non-contact’ activities like tennis may require special accommodations to allow for social distancing. 
  • No groups of more than ten people.
  • If an area is crowded or busy, seek another recreation spot.
  • Avoid areas like playground equipment, picnic tables, and benches. 

Trina Smith remembers how not that long ago, people weren’t social distancing in the parks, and almost everywhere else. 

“You know when you play basketball, you’re in physical contact, and you’re touching the basketball and stuff,” she says. “Nobody was wearing gloves or face maks, but was still continuing touching, making contact with each other.”

Not everybody likes the restrictions, but they understand the reasoning behind the slow turnaround. 

“I like the summertime, so I want to be outside and enjoy it while we can,” Marshall says. “But until then, it’s just quarantine and just keep waiting.”

“You have to have minimal contact,” Smith adds. “You don’t know who has it, still. Maybe some people who have it don’t know they have it.”