“Closing playgrounds is one of the most painful decisions our City has made during the coronavirus pandemic, but public health officials tell us it’s critical to save lives,” said OKC Parks Director Doug Kupper. “We know it’s hard for parents at home for so long, and especially for the children who see our bright and colorful playgrounds on a sunny day. But people need to know that respecting these closures is one of the many steps we all have to take together to end this pandemic.”
Mayor David Holt’s “Shelter in Place” order, effective until April 16, is a modification to a state of emergency that had already closed all playgrounds in Oklahoma City, public and private. Also closed are City-owned sport courts (basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc.), outdoor fitness courts, recreation centers, skate parks, senior centers, golf courses and disc golf courses.
Public health officials say the coronavirus can survive on hard surfaces common in playgrounds and these other facilities for days or longer.
People of any age can get infected with COVID-19, and spread it to others whether or not they develop symptoms themselves. Parents and children could not only get a serious infection themselves by going to a playground, but spread it to someone else with an even higher risk of severe complications or death.
OKC Parks is working to put more signs around closed playgrounds and other park areas, including caution tape in some cases. Many people have been tearing the tape off and ignoring the signs, putting themselves and others at risk of catching the virus.
You can call 911 to report people violating the “Shelter in Place” order, including people playing on closed playgrounds or other closed park areas. Police will ask for voluntary compliance, but have discretion to cite people who refuse.
The green spaces in parks are still open, as are trails. It’s a good idea to get exercise in the sunshine by visiting a park while otherwise sheltering in place, but stay 6 feet away from others while you’re there.
Visit covid19.okc.gov for the latest local resources and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.