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Minneapolis Parks to close playgrounds, skate parks, and sports courts

It's following similar steps taken in St. Paul.

Sports amenities including basketball, tennis and volleyball courts will close along with playgrounds and skate parks in Minneapolis from May 1.

The closure of sports and recreational amenities at city parks has been confirmed by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, which has also shuttered beaches and aquatic facilities ahead of the summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Minneapolis is now following St. Paul in keeping its parks open, but removing basketball rims, as well as tennis nets, with soccer and athletic fields also due to close.

The Parks Board has threatened on more than one occasion to close the facilities after finding that people weren't adequately social distancing at the city's parks.

"From the beginning, we have been following the guidelines of public health experts. We’re taking this necessary step to slow the spread of COVID-19 and for the health and safety of residents and their families," said MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura.

"We have put a lot of effort into educating and encouraging social distancing, but we continue to see park visitors gathering during this national health crisis."

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As well as the closures, signage will be placed around picnic areas as the weather warms to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer, with similar social distancing signs place at the city's disc golf and golf courses.

"We need to keep everyone in our public spaces safe. Reducing possibilities for public gathering is the safe thing to do at this time. We will continue to monitor how people adhere to social distancing guidelines throughout the park system,” said Jono Cowgill, MPRB President.

Also announced on Friday was an expansion of the city's Park Ambassador program which will see outdoor programming aimed at young people rolled out in the coming weeks, "done in a manner that allows for safe social distancing."

"We recognize that our communities, particularly our youth, rely on park activities. I’m proud of the work our program staff are doing to develop virtual programs and modified summer park programs,” Bangoura said.

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