Pandemic Alert: Update on Ann Arbor park facilities, amenities and programs

Last week Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order through Friday, May 15, and updated language regarding allowable recreational activities. The Executive Order (EO) states that: Individuals may leave their home or place of residence and travel as necessary:

(1) To engage in outdoor recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household. Outdoor recreational activity includes walking, hiking, running, cycling, boating, golfing, or other similar activity, as well as any comparable activity for those with limited mobility.

The EO also states that subject to the excepted recreational activities noted above, public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household are prohibited. Additionally, individuals must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.

Since the stay-at-home order was put in place parks and natural areas have remained open but have been limited to activities that do not involve direct contact with others, such as walking, hiking, running and cycling. The closure of many of our public park amenities and facilities has been necessary, but painful to execute, as staff in the Parks Department believe passionately in the ‘essentialness’ of the park system and the opportunities for health and well-being that it provides.

The Ann Arbor Park and Recreation Services Department is working hard during this time to prioritize the safety of our community, support the EO, and look for ways within it to provide safe recreational opportunities we know the community desires and needs. The EO allows for golf to resume under modified conditions and the courses open today, Friday, May 1. The Ann Arbor Farmers Market will open Saturday, May 9, also under modified conditions. Staff are exploring what “other similar activities” might be able to be reintroduced safely, and plan to share an update next week on the status of all our park facilities, amenities and programs.