Dallas mayor shuts down parks for Easter weekend

Kimball Park in Mesquite closed its basketball courts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Baylie Tucker/The Et Cetera
By LINDSEY CRAFT
@LindseycraftETC

All 397 parks in the City of Dallas will be closed for Easter weekend to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Eric Johnson said at a press conference today.

The parks will be closed beginning Friday at 9 p.m. and will reopen Monday at 7 a.m. and includes all Dallas golf courses.
The city’s Park and Recreation Director John Jenkins said trails will be open but social distancing will be enforced.

“We simply cannot take what we believe to be an unnecessary risk of further crowding in our parks right now,” Johnson said. “We cannot afford to jeopardize the gains that the data suggests that we are making right now in our fight against COVID-19 with the stay at home orders that we have in place.”

[READ MORE: Dallas judge closes craft stores]

Starting Friday park staff will install barricades and digital message boards letting patrons know the parks will be closed through the weekend.

Jenkins said parks will be patrolled by park rangers, park staff and Dallas police officers.

“We have great parks in the city,” Johnson said. “I would have loved for our community to be able to celebrate Easter in our wonderful parks just like they do any other year and I regret very much that we’ve had to make this decision.”

This closure follows the decision announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday to close all state parks and historic sites in an effort to strengthen social distancing and prevent gatherings of large groups of people. Historic sites and state parks were closed indefinitely on Tuesday.

[READ MORE: Abbott closes schools, extends social distancing]

“Social distancing is our best tool to curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Abbott said in a news release. “The temporary closure of our state parks and historic sites will help us achieve this goal by preventing the gathering of large groups of people. I urge all Texans to continue to stay at home except for essential services as we respond to COVID-19. By following these social distance practices, we will overcome this challenge together.”

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 108 additional positive cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 1,432. The 21st and 22nd deaths were also reported, including a man in his 80s who was a resident of a long-term care facility who had been in hospice care, and a man in his 70s who was a resident of the city of DeSoto who had been hospitalized.

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