SAN ANTONIO – Shutting down city parks may be the next step in the fight against the novel coronavirus if people can’t stop congregating.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Sunday the city had seen people violating his “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, which prohibits gatherings of any size and requires people to follow CDC guidelines like staying six feet away from others.
“Ignoring the social distancing measures is a violation of law, and it’s an affront to all of those who are working on the frontlines of this battle. They’re working hard to keep you and your loved ones alive,” Nirenberg said.
“If you do not implement social distancing, we will be forced to close our parks.”
Since taking parks away would leave one less place you can go to escape your roommates or family, whom we are reasonably sure you are sick of by now, we made a list of what you can and can’t do at the city’s more than 250 parks and 70 miles of greenway trails.
DO walk, hike, bike, or run
City and county officials have encouraged people to get outside and exercise. The caveat, is that you are supposed to stay six feet away from everybody else, in accordance with CDC social distancing guidelines. So don’t bunch up.
When in doubt, flail wildly. That should create some room in a flash.
DO perform bodyweight exercises and calisthenics
Find some space and do pushups, squats or burpees to your heart’s content. Go ahead, put in your headphones, turn on “The Warrior” by Patty Smyth (am I revealing too much here?) and get it!
Because, as the next section indicates, you SHOULD be by yourself or just with people you live with when you do.
DON’T meet with a trainer or workout buddies
Many people have a regular running partner or maybe a personal trainer to help push them through a grueling workout. However, while the city did not provide a direct answer to our question about whether this was permitted, the order’s prohibition of gathering with anyone who does not live with you seems to put the kibosh on kicking butt in person with your buddies.
A potential workaround could be to do the session over a mobile video call app like FaceTime or Zoom.
We know, bros. It stinks. But getting or contributing to the spread COVID-19 stinks more. A fever isn’t the kind of burn you want.
DON’T use the playgrounds
Come on. You knew that one instinctively. You’d feel compelled to wash your hands after touching monkey bars even if there WEREN’T a pandemic going on.
Now, researchers have found that the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can live on surfaces for a while - even a few days for some materials. That’s a lot of time for your kiddo to touch that spot, too.
Plus, there’s usually a bunch of kids running around the same playground. Since the virus mainly spreads through other people, big groups are a no-no in the fight against COVID-19.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to keep away voluntarily, the city included playgrounds among the amenities it has closed as of Friday. While not all of the playgrounds are clearly marked yet as being off-limits, a Parks & Recreation Department spokeswoman said signage would be going up at the beginning of the week.
DON’T use the fitness equipment
The city has numerous outdoor fitness stations, including some pretty awesome ones. Did you know there is a ninja warrior-style obstacle course at Pearsall Park?!
Well, put it on your to-do list because, like the playgrounds, all of the pull-up bars, leg press stations, dip bars — anything you have to TOUCH — are closed.
DON’T use splash pads, basketball courts, skate parks
While we’re on the subject, these are the other amenities the city has shut down. These are all places where people would normally congregate, and therefore now no-go zones.
DON’T gather to play sports
I know it’s perfect weather to get together and play a game of soccer, rugby, or (in a shameless plug for MY favorite sport) Gaelic football, but when’s the last time you played any of those while staying six feet away from every other player? And no, I’m not counting the time you accidentally played with the really good players who left you in the dust, making you blame your bum knee to avoid embarrassment.
Playing sports requires you get close to a lot of people, which is, once again, what you’re trying to avoid. The basketball courts are closed for this reason, and if you’re in a league for a different sport, they’ve probably already put the season on hold anyways. So take the same approach with pickup games, and don’t do it.
DON’T have a BBQ or picnic
Sure, if it’s just the family members from within your own home, you might not be breaking the rule about gatherings, but you’re probably not out for what the order refers to an “exempted activity,” either.
The parks are open so you can get exercise — an exempted activity. Chasing your kids away from the chip bowl so they don’t spoil their appetites before you can get the meat off of the grill doesn’t count.
As a Parks & Recreation Department spokeswoman said in an email response to KSAT: “It’s important to emphasize that the intent of the Stay Home, Work Safe Order is for all families and individuals to stay home as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
ENFORCEMENT & AWARENESS
There is increased monitoring of the parks, a Parks & Recreation Department spokeswoman said, and the department is teaming up with Code Enforcement, SAPD and the Park Police to coordinate efforts.
The parks department has an outreach team to let visitors know about amenity closures. Signs about the closures will be going up early this week.
If you want to report a violation of the city’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, you can call 311 or 210-207-SAPD.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
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