Current and future COVID-19 impacts to Mpls parks and park programs
What’s open, what’s closed or canceled, and how park users can help
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has initiated many changes to park operations and programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is planning many more in the coming months.
The MPRB continues to base decisions on data, guidelines and orders from Gov. Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health. This can be a challenge as circumstances change often and quickly, but it’s clear that social distancing will be part of life in Minnesota for many months to come.
Based on the governor’s forecast and concern for the health and safety of park visitors and employees, the MPRB is bracing for a future that drastically changes services and programs this spring and summer. All plans are designed to ensure social distancing, prevent congregating and protect the health of the public and employees.
What is open?
Parks and trails
- All parks and trails remain open. The MPRB urges park users to follow park use guidelines
- Do not visit parks or trails if you feel sick. This includes fever, body aches, coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat.
- Stay at least six feet apart from other park users not part of your household.
- Wash your hands immediately before and after visiting a park.
- Walk to local parks. Do not drive across the city or metro to visit popular park attractions.
- Do not hang out at the park all day. Visit to walk, bike or roll, then return home. No group activities with people from outside your household.
Playgrounds remain open. Minnesota Department of Health guidelines do not recommend the closure of outdoor facilities, including playgrounds. However, playground users and caregivers bringing children to playgrounds should be aware that playground equipment is not sanitized, and they are urged to follow the guidelines above.
Sections of Lake Harriet Parkway, Lake Nokomis Parkway, Main Street SE and West River Parkway have been closed to motor vehicle traffic and opened to pedestrians to allow more room for social distancing. Soon sections of Cedar Lake Parkway, Lake of the Isles Parkway and more of West River Parkway will also be closed to motor vehicle traffic.
Athletic fields and courts
Athletic fields and courts remain open, with restrictions:
- No team or contact sports. People may shoot baskets or kick or toss a ball around, but no pickup games.
- Basketball rims currently remain open.
- Volleyball and soccer nets will not be installed this summer. Soccer nets already in place will be removed.
- Athletic fields will be not striped or marked.
- Tennis court nets will be installed because tennis allows for social distancing.
Golf courses are preparing to open once allowed by Gov. Walz. Until then, please stay off greens and fairways so staff may work.
All off-leash dog parks remain open. Permits are still required and available for purchase online at www.minneapolisparks.org/dogparks.
What is closed?
All program buildings
Program buildings remain closed to the public until further notice. This includes:
- All recreation centers
- MPRB headquarters
- Parade and Northeast ice arenas
- Kroening Interpretive Center
- Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Visitor Shelte
Public facilities will not be reopened unless social distancing can be assured and staff can operate and clean the facility
Beaches and pools
The level of public congregation that takes place at aquatic facilities and the level of staff required to operate these facilities will make it impossible to open and manage these facilities safely this summer. Outdoor aquatic facilities will not open this summer. This includes:
- Wading pools
- Webber Natural Swimming Pool
Restrooms and drinking fountains
The proximity of people’s mouths and noses to drinking fountains while they are in use creates an unacceptable level of risk for spreading COVID-19, so drinking fountains will remain closed.
At this point, the MPRB cannot guarantee the high level and frequency of disinfection needed to keep COVID-19 from spreading at public restrooms, so restroom buildings will also remain closed.
Portable toilets will remain in parks and continue to be serviced by an outside vendor. More portable toilets will be added to typical summer numbers and may be redistributed based on need. If park users see a toilet that needs servicing, please call the vendor directly at the number listed on the structure.
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is closed. The garden’s narrow paths and boardwalks, fencing and single main entrance make social distancing among visitors and staff too difficult.
What is canceled?
All MPRB events are cancelled or postponed through August 31.
MPRB staff will work with event partners to determine if an event can be moved to later in the year, but it’s anticipated that the majority of all MPRB spring and summer events will be canceled, consistent with what is happening throughout the country.
All summer programs and team sports that do not allow social distancing are canceled. Spring and summer sports leagues are cancelled, along with classes and programs unless they can be done virtually or adjusted for social distancing. Details about future virtual and modified programs will be announced and listed online once determined.
Hiring seasonal and temporary recreation employees is on hold.
Most summer positions typically hired for programming and recreation services will not be hired, including the Team Teenworks program. Hiring for certified summer seasonal employees required for critical service work will continue, including mobile equipment operators, parkkeepers, gardeners.
New Park Ambassador Program
The MPRB Recreation Services Division is rolling out an ambassador and outdoor
supervision program on April 11, or as soon as Governor’s Stay at Home Order is lifted. Recreation staff will be placed in neighborhood and regional parks to encourage social distancing and discourage social congregation.
Visit www.minneapolisparks.org/coronavirus for up-to-date information and FAQs. Receive timely email updates by visiting www.minneapolisparks.org/subscribe, entering your email and selecting the “COVID-19” topic in the “News Updates” section.
—Information provided by MPRB