As most businesses remain closed and sports events cancelled, parks are becoming a popular outlet to get away from the anxiety of being cooped up.
Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Health Services secretary-designee Andrea Palm extended the state’s “Safer at Home” order until May 26 to safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus. Though the “Safer at Home” order kept local parks open, playgrounds within local parks are closed and all sports courts are banned for the time being.
The updated order also gives local health officials the right to close parks when they see fit, based on high volume of traffic and inability to perform proper social distancing.
The skate park in Verona drew several children on Saturday, April 18, and the Military Ridge State Trail was busy with bikers. Parks can be used by walkers, bikers and exercise seekers.
State lawmakers are fearful that social distancing practices may dwindle as the weather warms. City parks directors are being tasked with monitoring the crowds at parks.
Dave Walker, Verona Park and Urban Forestry Director, said the city isn’t planning to close any of its parks, other than playgrounds and shelters, but will continue to monitor attendance and discourage groups congregating for the next several weeks.
“The order from the governor doesn’t really change that but I think it does help remind the public to avoid gatherings,” Walker said.
Two weeks ago, Evers ordered 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas in the state, primarily in southern and southeastern Wisconsin to close because of unprecedented crowds, litter and vandalism.
Going for a walk or a run can be a mental health break for some who may feel isolated at home, Walker said.
“People want to get outside and enjoy the parks for their own sense of health and well-being and we want to encourage that, we just ask that they do it responsibly,” he said.