Mayor says playing sports in parks during lockdown is putting others in harm’s way

Saturday in Mission Hill was a beautiful day. The temperatures were in the low 60s and the sun was shining–a signal from Mother Nature that spring had begun to sprung. 

However, these are not normal times and most of Mission Hill streets, that would normally be bustling with residents, were for the most part empty. 

But there’s a growing problem at neighborhood parks and a drive around the neighborhood Saturday confirmed that some are not practicing social distancing. 

At local parks adults and children were out in the warm weather playing pickup soccer and basketball games. 

With the weather getting warmer and New England slowly crawling out from under the grips of winter, Mayor Martin Walsh fears more residents will be using city parks improperly at a crucial time we should all be practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Sunday during his daily COVID-19 press briefing Mayor Walsh provided a stern warning to those that continue to use Mission Hill and other city parks for sports activities. 

“People are still gathering in groups and playing sports in our parks,” Walsh said Sunday. “This is not social distancing/ Quite honestly, you’re putting other people at risk by doing this.”

Walsh reminded residents that parks should only be used as ‘passive recreation’ parks at this time and no one should be playing sports or other organized activities. 

If the practice continues here in Mission Hill and throughout the city Walsh said he’s be forced to shut the parks down. 

Walsh and the Parks Department announced Sunday that sports like soccer, street hockey, basketball, and tennis are banned and city employees have already begun putting zip-ties on basketball nets. 

“The last effort is to lock the park down,” he said. “We don’t want to lock the park down.”

In a statement the Parks Department said while city parks are open for solitary activities such as walks, they urge everyone to practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet. 

“The tot lots are closed and there should be no gatherings or contact sports,” said the statement. “We are asking for your help communicating this to friends, families and neighbors. The City of Boston will be taking new measures to discourage anyone from engaging in activities in our parks that put themselves and others at risk. This includes soccer, street hockey, basketball, and all group sports. To start, we’ve begun to temporarily put zip-ties on basketball hoops and we’re temporarily removing street hockey and tennis nets. The Parks Dept will also have new signage up this week.”

Walsh and the Parks Department also urged residents to wash hands, utilize hand sanitizer, and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow; limit time in public areas and avoid congregating in groups; and stay home if you feel sick.

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