Minneapolis Parks Board president: Stop crowding or parks will close

Gov. Tim Walz had expressed concern over high numbers of people at Minneapolis lakes at the weekend.
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The president of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board has warned people to stop overcrowding the city's parks during the governor's "Stay at Home" order, or face seeing them close down.

Jono Cowgill issued the warning in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, which comes after a weekend where there were large crowds seen at some Minneapolis lakes, prompting criticism from Gov. Tim Walz.

"It is critical that neighbors are able to use our public spaces to exercises during this time," Cowgill tweeted.

"It is also critical that we keep our public spaces safe. So I am asking you all to be considerate about where you go. Overcrowding at popular locations will lead to shuttering parks."

The parks board has recently taken steps to expand the space for walkers and runners to use, shutting down the parkways around Lake Harriet and Lake Nokomis to vehicle traffic, and doing the same on West River Parkway and Main Street in St. Anthony Main.

Cowgill is also urging people to discover some of the city's perhaps less popular parks, a list of which you can find here.

“I encourage everyone in the metro area, including Minneapolis residents, to use their local neighborhood parks that are within walking distance rather than flock to the busiest parks in our system," he said.

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At his Wednesday briefing, Gov. Walz re-iterated his previous calls for people to stick to social distancing rules, staying at least 6 feet away from others not in your household at all times.

"Don't bunch up," he said. "Give a wide berth to one another, but get out there and stretch your legs."

Health commissioner Jan Malcolm also asked that Minnesotans keep up the good work by staying home and limiting their exposure to others with the Easter holidays coming up.

"Difficult as this is it's essential how this limits the outbreak of the spread," she said.

Here are the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board tips for using the city's park:

– Stay at least six feet apart from other park users not part of your household.

This means you may have to go a little slower and be mindful of others as you pass.

– Do not participate in group activities where you can’t always stay six feet apart .
No pickup basketball, soccer, football, volleyball or other team sports. No group activities with people from outside your household, like grilling, hammocking or sunbathing in close proximity.

– Do not drive across the city or metro to visit popular park attractions.
97 percent of Minneapolis residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Use the parks and open space available in your neighborhood.

– Use parks in moderation.
Visit parks for a walk, bike or roll, but do not hang out at the park all day.

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