The Maryland State Park Service closed park beaches Saturday, the latest in a series of steps restricting access to encourage social distancing as part of the state’s response to the new coronavirus outbreak.
The park service announced on Twitter Saturday morning that all its beaches are now closed.
In addition, city crews began removing basketball court rims and tennis nets from parks in Baltimore to try and contain the virus. Baltimore officials have also asked residents to stay off playgrounds and other park equipment.
The state parks have been taking a series of steps to reduce the number of people gathering at its parks, which include Patapsco Valley, North Point, Hart-Miller, Gunpowder Falls, Rocks and Sandy Point in the Baltimore area.
Other steps include closing picnic shelters, playgrounds and visitors centers, and reducing available parking to limit the number of visitors, according to a Saturday tweet by Mike Ricci, Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokesman.
Ricci said the state’s Natural “Resources Police and the Maryland Park Service are prepared to close or shut down any area of any park that gets overcrowded."
In Baltimore, officials also announced restricted access to city dog parks, limiting the Canton, Latrobe and Howard Street dog parks to five people at a time and the Patterson Park site to 10 people at a time. Otherwise, city parks remain open.
Health professionals say that getting outdoors, enjoying the sun and exercising are important in helping boost people’s immune systems as long as proper social distancing is maintained. It’s recommended that people stay at least 6 feet away from each other to avoid transmitting the coronavirus, which travels in tiny droplets from the mouth and nose.