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Amherst shuts down public playgrounds

  • Groff Park in Amherst  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2020 2:53:59 PM

AMHERST — Add public playgrounds to the list of town facilities shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already closed municipal buildings, schools and libraries.

On Sunday, officials issued new guidelines prohibiting residents from using swing sets, slides and other structures.

“Playground equipment is off limits,” Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday.

The reason for keeping people off playgrounds is because the equipment can’t be sanitized well enough to guarantee that any spread of the new coronavirus could be stopped.

People are still welcome to drop by Mill River Recreation Area, Groff Park, Sweetser Park, Kendrick Park and the Town Common. But in addition to roping off the playgrounds, town officials are advising that no organized activities or sporting programs take place, with a recommendation that people continue practicing social distancing and limiting groups to no more than 10 people.

Playgrounds at the schools, which are closed through at least May 4, will also be roped off.

As part of the efforts to inform the public about where things stand with COVID-19, Bockelman, Health Director Julie Federman and School Superintendent Mike Morris will be holding two live webinars on Thursday using the Zoom application. The first is at noon and the second is at 5 p.m.

People can go to or call in by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and using Webinar ID 524 601 364.

Bockelman said the town’s continued strategy to confront the pandemic includes having as many municipal employees as possible working remotely. The police and fire departments have implemented social distance policies and practices, he said, and officers are focusing on downtown foot patrols and making sure businesses are secure.

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