Maryland parks enforce measures to encourage social distancing

Montgomery County Parks says you can enjoy the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic, but it wants you to do it safely and smartly. (Courtesy Montgomery Parks)

Park departments in Maryland are starting to take the rims off basketball hoops and even put up fences around some playgrounds to maintain social distancing and keep crowds from gathering.

“We try not to do that except on the courts where we’re getting reports about pickup games going on or other large crowds of people gathering,” said Casey Anderson, the chair of the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.

“We’re fencing off some playgrounds where we’re having repeated problems with kids meeting and climbing all over the equipment,” he added. “We can’t really allow that kind of thing.”

Parks started fencing off playgrounds on a case-by-case basis, but it’s been picking up in frequency. Additional closures are expected through the next few days.

And even if you find a playground without a fence around it, don’t think that means it’s safe to play on. Instead, Anderson said you’re better off going for a bike ride or a hike.

“We have 270-some miles of trails and as long as people spread out and aren’t at the same point on the Capital Crescent Trail and the Sligo Creek Trail, it will be not a problem,” Anderson said.

social distancing on trails
Here are some ways to enjoy the trails while social distancing. (Courtesy Montgomery Parks)

Certain points along those trails, including the lower Sligo Creek Trail in Takoma Park, have been particularly problematic. Playgrounds in the Takoma Park area are also getting more use than they should right now.

“There are a couple of places in Bethesda and Silver Spring and Takoma Park, where it seems that people are all congregating in exactly the same location,” Anderson said.

He said it’s imperative people spread out and keep moving.

“It’s essential if we’re going to get through this experience with our mental, as well as our physical health intact. People need to have an outlet, and we want to be able to provide that,” Anderson said.

“But people just need to do their part and be safe.”

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