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City takes additional steps
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Additional restrictions have been placed on the use of city-owned parks following Gov. Bill Lee’s stay-at-home mandate issued Thursday. Closed previously were children’s play areas and pavilions. On Friday, more was added to the list. Among areas that remain open to the public at this time are the Barren Fork Greenway. Pictured, from, left are Lauryn Ashby, Jaime Ashby and Ella Ashby walking their dogs on Thursday. - photo by Lisa Hobbs
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Brielle Meyer is disappointed to find the children’s play area at Riverfront Park closed Thursday. The city is keeping its parks open for public use, but has closed playground equipment.

McMinnville officials have increased the list of areas not accessible to the public within its parks. 

“Ballfields, soccer fields and the Jungle Jym are closed,” said Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord on Friday.

Those will be added to an earlier list that included children’s play areas, pavilions and bathroom facilities at all parks.

Residents may still take a stroll on the Barren Fork Greenway and any other walking trails. 

“People can still go fishing, boating, kayaking and use the docks,” said McCord. “All the walking trails are open, including Barren Fork Greenway. We are urging people who use the parks to practice social distancing and follow guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The city is trying to avoid complete closure of the parks, but visitors to them will make that determination.

“We are keeping the green spaces open until people stop following social distancing rules put in place,” said McMinnville Mayor Ben Newman. “We want to provide areas where people can get out of their homes, exercise or just enjoy a beautiful day, but their cooperation is needed. If we find people are not practicing social distancing at the parks and not following the recommendation by CDC, we will close them.” 

To slow the spread of COVID-19 through U.S. communities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged Americans to practice social distancing. Among recommendations are maintaining a distance of approximately six feet from others, not meeting in groups of 10 or more, and limiting any gatherings that include high-risk individuals.

The Ashby family was walking Barren Fork Greenway on Thursday and expressed appreciation for it remaining open.

“We have been at home since this all started,” said Jaime Ashby, who was walking the trail with Ella and Lauryn. “This is the first time we’ve gotten out. We were going stir crazy. I hated to waste such a beautiful day.” 

Brittani Snider took her children, Eli and Zoey, for a nature walk. The trio stopped by spring located at the wooden bridge.

“We wanted to get out and get some sunshine,” said Brittani. “Walking the greenway and enjoying nature seemed the best option. We can still practice social distancing.”

Eli, who may have had an ulterior motive, added, “I’m Pokémon hunting.” 

Pokémon Go is a 2016 augmented reality mobile game. It uses the mobile device GPS to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, which appear as if they are in the player’s real-world location. 

“There’s one standing right beside you,” said Eli. 

Virtual creatures are exempt from the social distancing requirements.