PHOENIX - The Phoenix City Council voted unanimously on March 16 to reopen public parks and pools as Arizona recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parks and recreation officials and doctors in the Tuesday meeting said they're supportive of the reopening at this point because COVID-19 cases are in the COVID-19 spread benchmark "moderate" rather than "substantial."
The announcement includes the reopening of picnic tables, basketball and volleyball courts, sports complexes, outdoor fitness equipment, athletic field reservations, pools and swim lessons.
There will be some modifications to prevent the spread of the virus, like requiring masks to be worn by fans, sports officials and athletes while they're not playing. Everyone must also be at least six feet apart.
The pool reopenings will also have modifications. Twelve pools will be open, there will be reduced capacity in swim lessons, more cleaning and reservable blocks for open swim.
Doctors in the meeting agreed this is a good time to reopen because of the downward trend in cases.
"This is a really nice incremental strategy for opening parts of our community, parks and pools," Dr. Saskia Popescue said.
Up until March 16, Phoenix has been the only valley city to not reopen facilities for outdoor team sports.
The reopening of the complexes will begin on Monday, March 22 and the pools will open Memorial Day Weekend.
Mayor, council member remark about the reopenings
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said of the decision, in part, "From the start, we've made data- and science-based decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of Phoenix residents. Today, with the decision to cautiously and carefully return to play, we are again following what the science is telling us. Yet, while we want our residents, especially children, to get out into the fresh air, we need to remember that the pandemic is not over. I encourage every individual to stay vigilant and take safety precautions including masks and physical distancing."
Councilman Michael Nowakowski said in a news release, in part, "This is vote is a win for families needing to get out of their homes for some fresh air, in a safe setting. I also want to remind all residents to continue to socially distance, wear a mask while at parks and using the facilities and stay at home if not feeling well."
Read more about COVID-19 in Arizona here.