Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Boulder police have been fielding a lot of calls lately about problematic people in city parks. Concerned residents are calling not to report rampaging packs of hooligans, but kids playing.
Such is life under the threat of coronavirus, which has shuttered playgrounds and made contact sports like basketball or soccer more than just taboo: Under statewide closures and social distancing measures, group activities are illegal.
The police department has fielded “about 20” calls since Colorado’s stay-at-home order went into effect last week, interim chief Carey Weinheimer said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. The county’s COVID call center handled 470 the first day of the order alone, he said.
Boulder County Public Health is the enforcing agency for the state order, but rather than calling the county or the cops, those wishing to notify authorities of violations should fill out this form provided by Boulder County. The health department is “triaging” reports before referring some to law enforcement, according to City Manager Jane Brautigam.
“The police department can’t be in charge of enforcing playground social distancing,” Brautigam said.
Boulder’s cops will continue to focus on breaking up large gatherings, Weinheimer said. At least one local COVID case was traced to St. Patrick’s Day parties on University Hill.
Police won’t be making arrests or issuing tickets, city officials reiterated Tuesday. They and others will focus on education to increase compliance. Signs have been posted in city parks and some equipment removed — nets on tennis courts, etc. — to discourage use.
Efforts seem to be working, according to Parks and Recreation Director Alison Rhodes. Rhodes on Tuesday did a tour of “fifteen-ish” city playgrounds.
“I saw one kid on a swing,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a widespread issue.”
Open Space Director Dan Burke said trails are noticeably emptier than last week, something he attributed, in part, to the end of spring break and the start of online schooling. Rangers on Tuesday reported the lowest visitation since the beginning of the pandemic, Burke said.
“I think education is staring to take hold as well. I don’t know if I can call it a trend yet, but certainly the last couple days,” social distancing is getting better and visitation is going down.
Read a play-by-play of Tuesday’s discussion here.
Resources and more
Boulder County call center, available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.: 720-776-0822
Parks and recreation COVID-related closures: bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/parks-rec-covid-updates
Open space COVID-related closures: bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/temporary-closures
Use OSMP’s interactive trail map to see which trails are wider than 6 feet and areas of high and low use
— Shay Castle, firstname.lastname@example.org, @shayshinecastle
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