RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A limited number of Riverside parks and other recreational areas are open to the public, as the city moves toward relaxing coronavirus mitigation measures begun more than a month ago, officials said today.
Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser last week clarified that the county’s emergency health orders were never intended to close parks and trails, and based on that revelation, Riverside officials decided to re-open all neighborhood parks, some tennis and pickle ball courts, as well as trails within Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park and the disc golf course at Martha McLean Park.
However, the city’s most popular outdoor venue, Mount Rubidoux, remains closed, as well as Fairmount Park and all gated parks and athletic fields, officials said.
“Mount Rubidoux remains closed because the volume of hikers on the trails would make it very difficult to achieve the required social distancing,” according to a city statement.
“It also would require the re-opening of the parking lot at Ryan Bonaminio Park, which would raise the potential for large gatherings without social distancing at that park.”
The places that were deemed safe to reopen were considered so from the perspective of easy social distancing and lack of heavy activity, hence less crowding, according to the city.
“Public health has been and continues to be the city’s primary goal during this pandemic,” Riverside City Councilwoman Erin Edwards said.
“We want to re-open as soon as possible, but the stakes of moving too quickly are high. Rest assured that Riverside city leaders are weighing all facts to make decisions that are the most prudent for our city.”
Officials are weighing the possible re-opening of the Fairmount Park Golf Course, though they emphasized that any play would require golfers to maintain distancing and using face coverings.
“Exercising safely is a great way to get out of your house and maintain your fitness,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “We know that exercise is a key factor in maintaining good mental health during stressful times, so it is encouraging to see our parks re-opening.”
Further lifting of restrictions may be announced in the coming weeks.
All municipally operated facilities were shut down on March 13 by the Riverside City Council under a local state of emergency that immediately followed one declared by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
Riverside City Hall, the libraries and other buildings were closed to the public, along with the parks, though some outdoor enthusiasts have ignored the closures.