Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The City of Rochester is taking steps to discourage gatherings in city parks that violate safe social distancing requirements for COVID-19.

City officials say with the arrival of milder weather, there has been an increase in outdoor activity on city sidewalks, trails, and parks. They also note the higher number of people enjoying the public amenities has resulted in gatherings where the people involved are bunched together despite the urging of health experts to keep at least 6-feet of space between each person.

In response, the city has installed fencing around the skate park at Silver Lake Park to discourage people from gathering at the facility and risking becoming infected and spreading COVID-19.

“We are specifically making a call out to our community’s youth to be champions for social distancing at this time,” said Rochester Police Chief James Franklin. “Limit unnecessary contact with others, and avoid contact with people who aren’t living in your own household – this includes your friends. You have an opportunity to be change-makers for all of us.”

The city previously padlocked tennis and pickleball courts for the same reason. Rims have also been removed from basketball courts and closed signs have been posted at playgrounds and the skate park. The trails remain open, but city officials stress users must maintain six feet of space between individuals, even when passing another person. Officials say people should not walk with anyone other than members of their immediate household and are urging everyone to stay off the trails if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

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