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Tucson park ramadas closed again amid rise in COVID-19 cases
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Tucson park ramadas closed again amid rise in COVID-19 cases

A "CLOSED' sign and caution tape is placed around a ramada at Gene C. Reid Park, 900 S. Randolph Way, in Tucson, Ariz., on April 1, 2020. The City of Tucson Parks and Recreation employees are going around to all Tucson parks to close all ramadas, gazebos, playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, all sports courts and fields, horseshoe pits and splash pads due Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The City of Tucson has closed all ramadas at local parks due to the increase in coronavirus rates throughout the state, officials announced Wednesday.

The decision comes as the Pima County Health Department continues to report accelerated rates of COVID-19 transmission and recorded its highest single day total — 878 cases — since the pandemic began in March. Hospital bed capacity also reached as low as 10% this week, the lowest level since July.

All ramadas at city parks and recreation facilities will be closed, effective immediately, through the end of December and all current reservations will be canceled. Customers will be contacted about their options for a credit or refund, according to city officials.

In August, Tucson Parks and Recreation reopened ramadas, playgrounds and other facilities for public use as part of a citywide reopening plan amid the pandemic. The closure of ramadas this time around marks a step back in the city’s plan to reopen public facilities. Playgrounds will remain open, however.

“If the situation evolves and we find that social distancing and wearing masks is not being followed, we will re-assess at that time,” said Sierra Boyer, Tucson Parks and Recreation marketing manager, in a news release.

The city will also not be scheduling any new sporting events at public fields, but will allow some previously scheduled games to take place. All recreation centers and basketball courts remain closed at this time.

“We will allow the few local games currently scheduled to continue, provided they follow their COVID-19 action plans previously submitted to the department,” Boyer said. “No spectators at events or events involving interstate travel will be allowed.”

In addition, the city will close Sentinel Peak Park, or “A” Mountain, early from now until the end of the year in order to prevent an influx of large gatherings in the evenings. The park was previously open until 8 p.m. but will now close 30 minutes after sunset.

“We strongly advise that all groups keep to 10 or fewer people, stay 6 feet away from anyone they do not live with, stay home if feeling sick, and follow all other CDC guidelines to keep safe,” Boyer said. “Every person in the City of Tucson over the age of 5 is required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public setting where continuous physical distancing is difficult or impossible. We will continue to assess the situation and update the public.”

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