A week after Knoxville said the city’s 93 parks were open for passive use only – no basketball games, no climbing on playground equipment, no access to toilets – authorities cracked down harder to drive out the crowds that continued to show up.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, park and recreation workers cordoned off playgrounds and removed tennis court nets and rims from basketball hoops in city parks. People can no longer just ignore the signs, as part of a campaign to urge people to follow Safer at Home guidelines to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
A total of 62 play structures have been closed, marked with yellow warning tape, and 20 basketball courts have been demarcated.
“We couldn’t get people across and they just walked around the signs,” Knoxville Parks and Recreation director Sheryl Ely said. “It was the only way to oppose it.”
This is because Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon issued a stricter “Safer at Home” order for the city on Tuesday night in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The order echoes an existing Knox County Order that was put in place on March 23. The Kincannon order went into effect on Wednesday and will last until April 6, although it can be changed, canceled or extended if necessary.
The parks are always open for passive use only. Ely said people can still go to parks to walk, hike, run and cycle.
“What we want people to do is individualize activities, individualize activities that reduce the sharing of equipment, which would be a ball, or a racket or whatever.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Kincannon said she had implemented the plan as the number of coronavirus cases in the county increased – there were 78 cases reported in Knox County as of Wednesday afternoon.
Here’s what’s closed in City of Knoxville parks:
- Play ground
- Sports field
- Basketball and tennis courts
Knox County Parks close playgrounds
Knox County Parks have also closed playgrounds and washrooms, said Mike Donila, deputy director of Knox County Parks and Recreation. Picnic areas, sports fields and courts are always open.
“We have been extremely pleased with the public response so far through physical distancing,” Donila said. “I don’t think we need to do anything more at this point than that.”