MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - During the “safer-at-home” order that was put in place earlier this week, many citizens are turning to outdoor activities to occupy their time. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued new closures for outdoor facilities Friday to further implement social distancing practices.
“I know you’re getting a little stir-crazy sitting at home all day,” said Mayor Jim Strickland. “Going on walks, and exercising outdoors is good, as long as you maintain social distancing while you’re doing it.”
However, as seen at Tom Lee Park recently, outside activity has not equaled social distancing for many.
“Right now city parks are open, but if we continue to see what we saw yesterday at Tom Lee Park, we will have to close parks,” Strickland said in his weekly update Friday.
“With the safety of our parks and patrons and citizens in mind, we are making some operational changes,” said Mayor Strickland. “Due to the social nature of athletic activities and certain park activities, we are closing all city baseball, softball, and soccer fields, and basketball courts. Additionally, we are closing dog parks and skateboard parks, effective immediately.
In addition to shutting down bathrooms and keeping the park clean, George Abbott with Memphis River Parks Partnership says his team is responding to the influx of park visitors with "Social Distancing Ambassadors."
"We are on the lookout for any gatherings of groups more than 10 people as well as close physical contact between people who are not in a family unit together."
Abbott says he hopes people will learn to appreciate parks while remaining safe.
"When you can't do all the things that you like to do as a Memphian, you know you can't go to the grizzlies, you can't go to your favorite restaurant a lot of those civic rituals a lot of them have been disrupted but what remains is our parks, our river and I think you're seeing an appetite from people to get down there," Abbott said.
Park staff will also post signage throughout Tom Lee Park reminding visitors to practice social distancing.