An MPRB worker could be seen replacing the basketball and tennis nets at McCrae Park early Wednesday morning, a welcome sign that a bit of normalcy is returning after weeks of empty playgrounds and courts.
As Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-56 went into effect Monday to safely reopen Minnesota’s economy and ensure safe non-work activities during Stay Safe MN, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is beginning to slowly re-open courts, play areas, skateparks and sport fields over the next two weeks with the expectation that park visitors will follow social distancing guidance outlined in the order.
In Executive Order 20-56, the Governor encourages public outdoor recreational facilities be open for families and children, and directs all individuals utilizing such facilities to follow the Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Recreation Guidelines, which were updated yesterday, May 18, and include the following guidelines for the public:
- Practice social distancing of at least six feet, except for members of the same family.
- If it is not possible to maintain social distancing throughout the activity, such as while playing a sport like basketball or volleyball where participants are often in close proximity, then you should only participate in that activity with members of your household.
- Keep in mind that even activities and sports that are typically thought of as non-contact, such as doubles tennis or pickleball, may require special accommodations to allow for social distancing.
- Do not gather in groups of more than 10 people.
- Explore the range of nearby public lands available to you; if you arrive at a park, water access site, or other public recreation land and see that it is busy, choose a different option.
- Avoid contact with shared amenities like playground equipment, picnic tables, and benches. Assume such equipment has not been sanitized. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if you do come in contact with shared amenities.
The MPRB urges park visitors to follow the executive order and the outdoor recreation guidelines. MPRB Park Ambassadors will continue to be in neighborhood and regional parks to provide information and encouragement on social distancing practices to park visitors. Park signs will remind visitors to stay six feet apart, avoid team sports, and to wash hands before and after park visits and use hand sanitizer during park visits.
“I am grateful the new executive order encourages outdoor recreation facilities be open for families and children. I urge all Minneapolis residents take the state guidelines seriously, take personal responsibility, and practice social distancing in parks to protect themselves and others,” said Superintendent Al Bangoura.
Bangoura strongly believes that use of their nearby park is a way of life for most Minneapolis residents, and that’s never been truer than now, when people are seeking respite, fresh air and exercise during this global pandemic.
“Closing some of our park amenities these past few weeks, particularly those in our neighborhood parks, was done for the health and safety of our park guests during the stay at home order,” explained Bangoura. “The new order rightly focuses on youth and families. We welcome the opportunity to reopen these park amenities to serve youth, families and park visitors who are properly social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to Bangoura, as the state slowly reopens stores and businesses, athletic courts, play areas, skateparks and sport fields closed last month will also slowly reopen. Bangoura urges residents to show grace and respect to their neighbors and those using Minneapolis parks.
RE-OPENING OVER NEXT TWO WEEKS, with the expectation of social distancing, no more than 10 people per amenity, and no team sports:
- Basketball courts – approximately 100 basketball courts opening across the park system
- Play areas– 118 play areas located throughout park system
- Skateparks– six skateparks
- Sport fields– almost 400 multipurpose fields for soccer, football, baseball and softball
- Tennis courts – more than 120 tennis courts across the park system
CURRENTLY OPEN (or OPENING SOON), some with modifications per Executive Order guidelines:
- Parks, Trails and Parkways – 180 parks, 51 miles of Grand Round trails, trails throughout neighborhood parks, 21 miles of parkways closed to motorized vehicles and open to pedestrians and cyclists
- Golf Courses – six golf courses and three driving ranges
- Dog Parks – seven dog parks
- Gardens and sanctuaries – 12 floral gardens and two bird sanctuaries
- Eateries — take-out options only — Lola’s Food Truck started weekend service at Bde Maka Ska last weekend and Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet opened last weekend (opening soon: Sea Salt will open at Minnehaha Falls on May 22; Sandcastle will open at Lake Nokomis on June 3)
- Bike and Boat Rentals – bike rentals opened last weekend at Minnehaha Falls and bike and boat rentals opened last weekend at Bde Maka Ska and Lake Nokomis (opening soon: bike and boat rentals will open at Lake Harriet on May 23)
- Boat/canoe launches and fishing piers –five boat launches, seven canoe launches, and 10 fishing piers
Visit minneapolisparks.org/coronavirus for more information about the MPRB’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and sign up to receive email updates at minneapolisparks.org/subscribe by selecting “COVID-19” in the “News Updates” section.