BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise's recreation facilities and offices are closed as part of the effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but the closure does not include trails and open spaces in the city's parks.
That doesn't mean city officials think social distancing is not a concern in the outdoors.
In her weekly video update, Mayor Lauren McLean said city staff are looking at how to get more employees to the parks and trails to enforce the six-foot social distancing rule. The mayor also advised trail users on the importance of giving others a passage -- those walking in groups should go single-file and create some distance when others are approaching or trying to pass.
Google mobility data indicates that the use of parks in Ada County increased by 33% above the baseline in late March, after Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a statewide stay-at-home order.
"That makes sense because we all need to be outside," McLean said. "But it also tells us, and tells me as a decision-maker, that we have got to be monitoring and enforcing the distance between people if we want to keep our parks open."
Director of Boise Parks and Recreation Doug Holloway said staff will be patrolling the Boise Greenbelt and foothills to make sure everyone is keeping a safe distance from one another.
"So, for example, our animal control folks will be doing some work in the foothills to just remind people about that physical distancing, to remind people to stay a safe distance apart," Holloway said.
Holloway also said that staff have been getting a lot of complaints about teenagers congregating at basketball courts and Rhodes Skate Park, both of which are closed. Those areas also will be patrolled.
"If you have teenagers that I know are driving you stir crazy as a parent at home and you want them out of the house, just remind them on their way out the door to continue to practice social distancing," Holloway said.
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Gov. Little's stay-at-home order does not prohibit all outdoor recreation. The governor actually encouraged Idahoans to exercise outdoors close to home, as long as people stay six feet apart.
Ridge to Rivers has a detailed guide to trail etiquette in light of coronavirus.
The Boise Parks and Recreation facility and office closure includes both city golf courses -- Warm Springs and Quail Hollow -- as well the Whitewater Park, the BMX Jump Park at Willow Lane and the Bike Park near Fort Boise. That's in addition to a number of more contained areas such as basketball, tennis and pickleball courts, skate parks, the Boise Depot, Zoo Boise and Idaho IceWorld, to name just a few.
Those closures will remain in effect until further notice.
Boise Parks and Recreation is also canceling all department programs, events, classes, camps, activities and volunteer opportunities through May 9.
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