Norwalk closes skate park, playgrounds amid coronavirus outbreak
NORWALK — As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to climb in Norwalk, Mayor Harry Rilling announced Saturday that certain parks and playgrounds would be closed indefinitely to prevent people congregating.
In his daily local update on the pandemic, Rilling said three new positive cases had been identified in Norwalk, bringing the city’s total number of confirmed cases to 11. The total number of cases in Fairfield County rose from 122 to 140.
As the numbers continue to rise, Rilling enacted further measures to slow the spread, including closing the playground, basketball court and skate park of Calf Pasture Beach and the playgrounds and courts at Cranbury Park.
“This is a new situation for all of us, and we are doing everything we can to help our residents, businesses and community as a whole get through this unprecedented moment together,” Rilling said. “There is no doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact, but our goal is to lessen that as much as we possibly can. Please continue practicing social distancing and stay healthy, Norwalk.”
The decision to close certain areas of parks — access to which is being blocked by caution tape — came two days after calls from the city and schools for students to more diligently practice social distancing.
The warnings came amid Norwalk Public Schools’ first week of distance learning — a series of strategies implemented by teachers, staff and administrators meant to enable students to work from home — while the district is shut down as a result of the pandemic.
“Despite public health warnings to maintain social distance to slow the spread of the virus, NPS (Norwalk Public Schools) and city authorities have received many reports of student gatherings taking place throughout the city,” according to a message from the district to parents Thursday. “We’re seeing this at fields, playgrounds, play dates and public areas, with students gathering to socialize or play sports.”
According to the statement, the district received reports of students gathered to socialize or play sports at playgrounds and parks. They’d also heard reports of parents scheduling play dates.
“We cannot emphasize enough to avoid group activities at this time,” the statement read.
Calf Pasture Beach has been one of the areas city officials have been concerned about. Police have been called several times in recent days to the walking areas and the skate park to break up large gatherings.
Before the warmer weather in recent days, the public spaces were more sparsely populated.
On Thursday afternoon around 1 p.m., before the warning was disseminated, Calf Pasture Beach was busy with walkers and runners in small groups, but other parks in town were mostly empty. At Ludlow Park there was a lone man playing basketball. Veteran’s Park was sparsely populated. Ryan Park was empty, as were basketball courts at Meadow Garden and Fox Run School.
At the basketball courts behind Roodner Court, there was a group of five boys playing basketball. Nathan Hale Middle School eight-grader Javon Williams, 13, said he and the other boys had been coming to the park to play most days after the school district’s home instructional period ended at noon. The boys said they’d heard of coronavirus and social distancing, but weren’t concerned about playing basketball with friends.
In its statement, the district acknowledged the need for kids to spend time outside, but urged outdoor activities to take place at home. They directed students and parents to adhere to social distancing guidelines as set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is urging all people, including children and children, to maintain a distance of six feet between one another.
On Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all non-essential employees statewide to stay home as of 8 p.m. Monday, to further limit the spread of the virus.
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