Carmel clamps down on outdoor recreation to curb COVID-19

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 19:01:06-04

CARMEL — Mayor Jim Brainard on Thursday ordered the closure of a number of outdoor recreational venues as part of the city's effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Overcrowding on part of the Monon Greenway and Midtown Plaza, which hinders compliance with social distancing guidelines, prompted the closure of the trail between Gradle Drive and Main Street until further notice. Seating and equipment is being removed from Midtown Plaza in an effort to deter people from gatheriing there.

"I ask for trail users to please practice social distancing on the remaining 230 miles of trails and paths we have in Carmel so that those can remain open," Brainard said. "It is so important to our mental health to get out and enjoy the fresh air, but we must do so responsibly."

Brainard noted warming weather will tempt people to congregate outside.

Signage is being added to indicate the closure and it will be enforced by Carmel police.

"The congestion on the Monon Greenway during the warm weather yesterday made it clear that there were many people in violation of those orders," Carmel police Chief Jim Barlow said. "As even warmer weather approaches, we find this measure necessary to reduce the temptation of people to get together as the quarantine continues."

In addition, Brainard noted that Gov. Eric Holcomb's stay at home order closed playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and other similar areas of outdoor recreation. Brainard also ordered all golf courses closed in Carmel because golfers are touching flags, using carts, retrieving balls from cups, which poses a problem because the novel coronavirus can live on these kinds of surfaces for up to three days, the mayor said.

"The governor made an exception for golf courses, but the number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County is far higher than the state average, so I issued this order today under the authority I have to limit non-essential travel," Brainard said. "In other words, travel to golf courses, except for walking, is prohibited. Maintenance of golf courses is still allowed."

The mayor has also asked Zagster, the vendor that operates the city bike share, to cease operations due to the inability to clean the bicycles and stations after every use.