Orem gets park upgrades, specialty parks 01

Harper Poulsen, 5, of Saratoga Springs, is helped across playground equipment by her grandmother, Susette Fisher, of Orem, on Tuesday, July 10, 2018, at Bonneville Park in Orem. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Orem residents visiting city parks and playgrounds were greeted Friday with signs reminding them to use social distancing and not to congregate.

That came the same day Gov. Gary Herbert asked parents and caregivers to be mindful of children and the spreading of the COVID-19 virus.

“Don’t allow children on public playgrounds,” Herbert said at a Friday press conference.

Karl Hirst, director of Orem’s Parks and Recreation, said keeping away from playgrounds, pickleball courts, tennis courts, skate parks and more is a major way to help children and adults stay clear of coronavirus germs that can stay on surfaces, like playground equipment, for up to 72 hours.

“These signs are in all city parks and remind people that, yes, they are outside, but they need to distance,” Hirst said. “For the most part people are honoring that. We are closely watching playgrounds.”

Orem public works will open outdoor restrooms starting next week and the signs also will go up there.

Chris Tschirki, director of Public Works, said the public should understand that bathrooms, playground equipment, benches and more are not being sanitized continually, it is an impossibility.

“When children are on the playground they are very close,” Tschirki said. “There is great potential for them to come in contact with surfaces that are compromised.”

Tschirki is concerned for groups that congregate to play team sports; even sports like disc golf has teams that congregate, he said. The discs themselves fall to the ground and one person can pick it up and then another.

The parks have signs in red that say following Center for Disease Control rules is very important. While parks and playgrounds in Orem are being monitored, Hirst said there is no police enforcement.

“A lot of this is just common sense,” Hirst said, “and what common sense is for one, is different for another.”

Both Hirst and Tschirki said they don’t anticipate tightening restrictions more, unless the governor has to issue a complete stay-at-home order.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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