Bloomington-Normal is expecting some nice weather over the next few days. That raises new questions about the coronavirus stay-at-home order: Is it OK to go to the park? What about Constitution Trail?
Yes and yes, with some caveats.
Can I go to the park?
Yes. Most parks in McLean County remain open for business. City and county officials just encourage everyone to use good judgment and social distancing.
Can I take my kids to a playground?
No. Playgrounds are closed until at least April 30.
The concern is two-fold. Playgrounds tend to be social-gathering spots—not what you want right now—and there is also the risk of the coronavirus spreading from surface-to-person.
“Enjoy the parks. Enjoy the trails. But keep your distance from those playgrounds. For now,” said Doug Damery, director of parks and recreation for the Town of Normal.
Most playgrounds are not gated off. One exception is Harmony Park in Bloomington (within Rollingbrook Park), which has been closed. It has a gate that can be (and is) locked.
McLean County’s Comlara Park’s trails and boat ramp are still open.
Springtime is here! Please remember the State of IL has closed all playgrounds until April 30 due to COVID-19 safety concerns. Until then, please play in our open park spaces, walk, run, or bike on our trails - PLEASE practice social distancing to reduce everyone's exposure. pic.twitter.com/R9ZsSsYlMr
— Normal Parks and Rec (@NormalILParks) April 1, 2020
What about other activities at the parks?
Those are likely fine.
If you want to play a 1-on-1 game of H-O-R-S-E at the basketball court, Damery says go right ahead. But he encourages good judgment, so avoid the 5-on-5 neighborhood game.
Can I use Constitution Trail?
Yes. In fact, a lot of people are walking, running, or biking the trail right now.
“The trail is once again showing what a valuable commodity it is for this community,” said Patrick Dullard with Friends of the Constitution Trail. “People are really needing it right now, and they’re using it as one of the few places that’s still open. We hope that can continue. And we think it can as long as people respect those social-distance rules.”
That means don’t stop to hug that neighbor or friend you bump into on the trail.
“I think those days are (gone) for a while,” Dullard said.
What’s the best way to use Constitution Trail right now?
There are about 40 miles of Constitution Trail, and obviously that stretches well beyond the heart of Bloomington-Normal.
Dullard suggests exploring some of the more remote sections of the trail. Here’s a map.
“Go out to Shirley, or up to Towanda, or some of those branches along Route 66, or the Interurban out toward Route 9 on the west side—those are lower usage spots,” he said. “We’re encouraging people to get out and explore places they might never have visited before.”
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