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Why parking lots were closed at these Richmond parks: 'No one wants to be cooped up'

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Posted at 8:39 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 23:30:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Parking lots at multiple James River access points in Richmond were closed for the first time this weekend in an effort to enforce social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tredegar parking lot, the parking lot at Pony Pasture, access to the James River Park System (JRPS) at the Pipeline entry point, and entry to the JRPS at the 21st Street Tower will be closed Saturdays and Sundays, according to Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities (PRCF).

The department will also continue to close the traffic gates in Byrd Park on Strollers Lane, Westover Road and Trafford Road on the weekends.

Officials previously closed all city dog parks, athletic fields, picnic shelters, park houses, community centers, administrative offices, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, skate parks, playgrounds, and the cancellation of all department sponsored programming.

Brent Stevenson was one of many people who visited Byrd Park Saturday

"We wanted to walk the dog, enjoy the nice day since we might not be able to leave the house too much going forward," Stevenson said.

The park looked much different thank last Saturday when tennis courts were packed.

"I think people are going to be upset in the short term because we've had such nice weather," Stevenson said. "No one wants to be cooped up seven days, but it slows the spread of the disease. That should be the only thing we care about right now."

Stevenson said he noticed Richmond Police at the park keeping a watchful eye on social distancing.

"We've seen more masks out," he said. "We've seen more people making a conscious effort to stay a good distance away from each other."

The closures will be in effect for the duration of the stay at home order in accordance with Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55.

Virginia's total number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 2,407 Saturday. Ninety-six of those cases are in Richmond.

Health department officials are investigating several "distinct clusters" of "local transmission" of the virus in Commonwealth, including 174 cases in Henrico County, 111 in James City County and 106 in Chesterfield County.

City officials said they understand the importance of the park system to our residents and will re-evaluate the need for closures and cancellations as this unprecedented situation evolves.

Staff at PRCF’s Administrative Office will be available to assist residents via phone at 804-646-5733 or email at AskParkRec@richmondgov.com