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Despite playground closures, public still using facilities

Posted at 5:01 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 17:41:15-04

BALTIMORE — The rule is clear. Maryland officials have asked the public to stay off playgrounds. Despite the warning, some people continue to use area swings and slides.

"Physical fitness and mental health are critically Important when people are cooped up in their homes," said Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello. "We don’t expect you to sit in your house 24 hours a day but we expect you to be responsible and not engage in at risk behavior."

Costello represents Baltimore's 11th district. On Thursday he told WMAR-2 News despite the warnings and closures of playgrounds, people continue to use them.

"You should see my email box," he said.

He's apparently been receiving pictures of people breaking the rules. He's even posted about it on social media hoping to reach more of the public in addition to public talks.

"I’ve been up to the parks every day over the last 17 days throughout my district," he said. "I’ve got about 60 parks in my district and every single day I make a point to talk to people and explain to them politely what the rules are and letting them know, 'Hey, I can’t kick you out. I’m not going to write you a ticket but if you continue to violate the rules the city is going to shut down the parks and no one wants to see that happen."

Right now police have the discretion on how to enforce the rule. Officers can write citations which could lead to a $5,000 fine or jail time. Right now they're just asking people to disperse.

While playground may seem harmless health officials have stated they're a petri dish for germs and the COVID-19 virus. The virus is known to live on metal and plastic surfaces for up to three days. That is why officials have asked the public to stay off area playgrounds.

"The park rules are very simple. The pavilions, the playgrounds, workout and fitness equipment, those are all closed to the public," said Costello. "You can walk up and down your block. If you have a backyard, you can play there, you can still go to the parks and enjoy our Parkes we’re just asking you not to go on playgrounds because of how you can contract COVID-19."