The South Carolina Recreation & Parks Association put together a committee of parks and recreation directors from across the state to develop a plan to reopen our playgrounds, athletic fields, indoor facilities and athletic tournaments/events. The plan is obviously contingent on the approval and compliance with the governor’s executive orders, DHEC, the CDC and medical experts. The plan would follow a phased approach based on when the “peak of the virus” occurs and make sure the data supports a decline in the rate of viral spread and not an increase as per DHEC.
The City of North Augusta is already in phase 1 of the plan as it allows for the opening of outdoor green spaces and trails. We remind our users that social/physical distancing is still very important. Do not use parks or trails if you are exhibiting symptoms, share the trail and warn other trail users of your presence as you pass, and follow the CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to visiting parks or trails.
Phase 2 of the plan scheduled for late May to early June is to reopen playgrounds and local athletic fields for local use only. Keeping these closed until late May or early June, per executive order, should give us time to reopen these high-touch areas where people tend to congregate and ensure we have proper staffing for the public’s safety. The areas opened in phase 2 are primarily used by youth and it is important that the rate of viral spread has decreased prior to opening. This does not include tournaments/events related to sports tourism due to traveling from individuals out of state.
Phase 3 would be early June to mid-June for the reopening of recreation centers/gyms for local use only. These indoor spaces need to adhere to the governor’s orders of group size, capacity issues and proper physical distancing. Guidance from DHEC and the CDC on the use of public indoor space will be useful in opening to the public in a safe manner. Summer day camps would also fall under this phase.
Phase 4 that includes sports tourism and tournament play with spectators would be mid-June to early July. Allowing participants from other states/areas to travel to South Carolina will need to be monitored. SCRPA makes a special point to note that there needs to be a differentiating between local league play on our fields and sports tourism related-events as these events include teams/participants/spectators from out of state.
Since different parts of the state are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity, the four phases above could be tailored to each local jurisdiction’s needs. The City of North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department supports this plan and will act accordingly upon the recommendations of our governor, DHEC, the CDC, medical experts, the mayor and City Council. We look forward to serving our community!