COVID-19 leads to changes at city, state parks

COVID-19 leads to changes at city, state parks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The coronavirus pandemic has led to big changes at city and state parks.

If you try to visit a Tennessee State Park this weekend, you're out of luck.

T.O. Fuller Park State Park in Memphis and 55 other state parks and state-owned natural areas closed to the public on Saturday.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation closed the parks in support of Governor Bill Lee's executive stay-at-home order.

The governor issued the order after data, including traffic statistics, showed a growing number of Tennesseans in recent days were not staying at home, as health experts had urged.

“COVID-19 is an imminent threat and we need you to understand that staying at home isn’t an option, it is a requirement for the swift defeat of COVID-19,” said Lee.

At the local level, Memphis police officers and police service technicians continue to enforce Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's order, shutting down roadways in and around city parks, including Overton Park and Tom Lee Park.

People can still visit the parks to run, walk or bike, but the mayor says large groups of people gathering will not be allowed. Visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing, keeping at least six feet away from others.

"This is serious because you need to take it serious. If you don't more people are going to die needlessly,” said Strickland.

The mayor's restrictions at city parks remain in effect until further notice.

The governor’s order closing Tennessee’s state parks runs through April 14.

All of Mississippi's state parks and state lakes closed on Friday, as directed by Governor Tate Reeve's shelter-in-place order, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. The wildlife management areas remain open.

As for Arkansas, its state parks remain open to visitors but with limited capacity. All cabins, playgrounds, gift shops and campgrounds at state parks in Arkansas are closed.

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