Hundreds of athletic fields, sport courts and play spaces in Minneapolis will start to reopen over the next two weeks but social distancing rules will be in effect.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order Monday encouraging public outdoor recreational facilities to open up, freeing the Park Board to start the process.
It said it’s working to reopen about 100 basketball courts, 118 play areas, 120 tennis courts, six skate parks and nearly 400 fields for soccer, football, baseball and softball.
The system closed its parks last month when the governor enacted the Stay at Home measure to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. But when restrictions expired Monday, Superintendent Al Bangoura said the Park Board moved to allow residents back in the parks at a time many are seeking respite, fresh air and exercise.
“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,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
Bike and boat rentals resumed last week at Minnehaha Falls and Bde Maka Ska and are expected to start Saturday at Lake Nokomis. Six golf courses, 12 gardens and bird sanctuaries and fishing piers also have or will open soon, the Park Board said.
Park visitors are still expected to follow guidelines issued by the Department of Natural Resources. They include: Keeping group sizes under 10, not touching playground equipment, picnic tables and benches, and washing hands before and after park visits.
Team sports such as volleyball and basketball should be played with members of the same household only. Special accommodations to allow for social distancing should be incorporated into noncontact activities such as tennis and pickleball, he said.
Bangoura said park users should avoid crowded parks and beaches and choose alternate locations when they are. They also should respect and show grace to others using the parks, he said.
Signs reminding park users to stay 6 feet from others, not to play team sports and wash hands frequently will remain in place. Ambassadors also will be in the parks to remind visitors to stay 6 feet apart.
“I urge all Minneapolis residents take the state guidelines seriously, take personal responsibility, and practice social distancing in parks to protect themselves and others,” Bangoura said.