LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - One of the largest park systems in Georgia is shutting down most of its features in an attempt to stop people from gathering in groups.
No more picnics in the pavilion. No more visits to the dog parks. No more playdates on the playground. Virtually all amenities that could involve close contact with others are being shut down indefinitely.
"It has become evident that restricting access to certain areas of parks is necessary to enforce social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” the county said in a statement. The order affects all 50 county parks and historic sites.
At Alexander Park near Lawrenceville workers spent much of Monday morning removing picnic tables from each pavilion and stacking them in a nearby parking lot. A party hat left over from the weekend still sat on one of the tables.
All pavilions are cordoned off. The only recreation allowed in Gwinnett Parks right now is walking or running on the paths.
“People need to get outside,” said Osbaldo Lopez who was walking through the park with his family. “They need fresh air.” Still, he agreed with the county’s decision.
So did Jimmy Kim and Arthur Woodruff. They’re just glad the parks are still open for people who want to walk or run, although the county advises people to practice social distancing there, too.
“We were going to the gym and they were closing all the gyms so this was the next best thing to the gym,” said Woodruff.
Even with the walking trails available, all Gwinnett parks will only be open from sunrise to sunset. It’s not clear what the punishment might be should someone try to use the playground or let their dog run around inside the dog pens. But Gwinnett police will be regularly patrolling.
Parks and Recreation staff plan to reach out to anyone with upcoming park facility reservations. They can reschedule or receive a refund. All indoor facilities, including swimming pools, closed last week.
As of Monday, the Georgia Department of Health reported Gwinnett County has 34 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Public health officials have urged social distancing to slow down or stop the spread of coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults who are 60+ and people with serious medical conditioners, such as heart disease and diabetes, are at higher risk of getting very sick from coronavirus.
Georgia has opened at least 13 drive-thru locations for virus testing and plans more. Kemp says priority for tests is being given to those at highest risk — the elderly, people who already have chronic illnesses, those in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and first responders such as paramedics.
Best prevention measures:
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
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