The backboards are colorful but the rims have been removed at this outdoor basketball court at Manassas and Poplar. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

Outdoor basketball courts with all of the rims removed by authorized personnel will – for some – be a lasting reminder of the forced upheaval of daily life in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mayor Jim Strickland has deemed this move necessary to curb the virus’ spread, particularly given the highly-concerning images of residents congregating in ways counter to city and county — and now state  — mandates.

Now Strickland is taking it a step further.

“What happened this past weekend at a couple parks in our city was reckless, irresponsible and selfish. Because of this, effective 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 31st, we are limiting park access at all city-owned parks.”

That directive topped Strickland’s daily update on the public health emergency.

So what does Strickland have in mind when he says “limiting park access?”

“The first restriction will be to cars. Riverside Drive will be closed, and I will be closing as many roads in and around parks that the fire marshal will let me,” he shared.

“Second, even though our Safer at Home Order sets this out, I will repeat — no groups of people will be allowed to congregate in our parks.”

That sets up the need to monitor compliance.

“We will have City of Memphis employees at parks throughout the city,” Strickland said. “These new restrictions are designed to allow people to walk or run through their neighborhood park but to prohibit people from congregating in large groups.”

Part of the backdrop is that while medical experts recommend outdoor activities, they are saying only do so with people in your household and staying at least six feet away from everyone else.

The move that goes into effect on Tuesday morning follows last Friday’s update from Strickland. At the time, he announced the closing all City baseball, softball and soccer fields and basketball courts; dog parks and skateboard parks too.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases continues to rise in Shelby County. Tuesday morning’s announced numbers: 405 confirmed cases, including 3 deaths.


More novel coronavirus coverage:

‘Safer at home’ order issued by Gov. Lee

TSD COVID-19 Flash!