MPRB FAQs regarding coronavirus (COVID-19)

UPDATED April 3, 2020

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) priority is the health and safety of our park visitors and employees. The MPRB is actively monitoring and responding to the coronavirus COVID-19 in partnership with the Minneapolis Health Department, Minneapolis Office of Emergency Management, and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), which is leading the statewide response to COVID-19. MPRB leadership staff are discussing COVID-19 daily and determining strategies related to COVID-19 impacts to the MPRB, the public we serve, and our employees.

Additional local, state and national resources and recommendations are available on their COVID-19 webpages:

NRPA Social Distancing Graphic

MPRB FAQs

Are parks and trails open?

All parks and trails remain open. The MPRB urges park users to follow park use guidelines:

  • Do not visit parks or trails if you feel sick. This includes fever, body aches, coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat.
  • Stay at least six feet apart from other park users not part of your household.
  • Wash your hands immediately before and after visiting a park.
  • Walk to local parks. Do not drive across the city or metro to visit popular park attractions.
  • Do not hang out at the park all day. Visit to walk, bike or roll, then return home.
  • No group activities with people from outside your household.

Are parkways or park roads closing to allow social distancing for walkers?

The following sections of parkways and roads are closed to allow more space for pedestrians to follow social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19. Cyclists are to stay on the bike path.

Sections of West River Parkway and Main Street SE are closed to traffic and open to walker March 27-April 10. See March 26 news release for details.

Lake Harriet Parkway is open for pedestrians March 28- April 10. See March 27 news release for details.

The Lake Nokomis Parkway is open for pedestrians  March 28- April 10. One lane will remain open for one-way traffic between Cedar Ave and 54th Street to provide residential access. See March 27 news release for details.

Sections of Cedar Lake Parkway, Lake of the Isles Parkway and more of West River Parkway are open April 4 – April 10. See April 4 news release for details.

Why are there no parkways closed in North Minneapolis?

In a March 27 Facebook post, Minneapolis City Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham shared that he and District 2 Park Commissioner Kale Severson, after speaking with constituents, believe North Minneapolis already has “plenty of greenspace along our parkways to maintain a safe distance” and do not believe “closing our parkways under these circumstances is in the best interest of our community.”

Are bicyclists allowed on the closed parkways?

Closed parkways are for pedestrians to allow for proper social distaining. Walkers should stay on the parkways and walking paths. Cyclists should remain on the bike path. In areas where a partial parkway is open, cyclists may share the road with other vehicles but must obey traffic laws.

What parkways are still open for individuals with mobility issues who need to drive to enjoy them?

Several parkways are open for vehicle traffic within the MPRB system, including Victory Memorial Drive, Theodore Wirth Parkway, East and West Minnehaha Parkway, Stinson Boulevard, Saint Anthony Parkway and West Bde Maka Ska Parkway

Are playgrounds open?

Yes. The Minnesota Department of Health guidelines do not recommend the closure of outdoor facilities, including playgrounds. However, playground users and caregivers bringing children to playgrounds should be aware that playground equipment is not sanitized and should follow MDH guidelines: do not use parks if you have symptoms; follow guidance on washing hands; follow social distancing of 6 feet.

Are athletic fields and courts open?

Athletic fields and courts remain open, with restrictions:

  • No team or contact sports. People may shoot baskets or kick or toss a ball around, but no pickup games.
  • Basketball rims currently remain open.
  • Volleyball and soccer nets will not be installed this summer. Soccer nets already in place will be removed.
  • Athletic fields will be not striped or marked.
  • Tennis court nets will be installed because tennis allows for social distancing.

When will golf courses open?

Golf courses are preparing to open once allowed by Gov. Walz. Until then, please stay off greens and fairways so staff may work.

Why did the MPRB announce summer cancellation plans so early in April?

The MPRB continuously monitors the data and public health impacts being shared by the Governor and Minnesota Department of Health.  The MPRB’s summer plans shared in early April are based on the March 25 scenario shared by Governor Walz that predicts the epidemic peak at 14 weeks, or early July. The MPRB interprets this to mean people will continue to get sick beyond that peak projection date, and public health and safety measures will be needed well into July and August. If the forecast changes and the MPRB is able to provide summer services beyond what is currently planned, the MPRB will do so as resources allow.

 

The MPRB takes public service delivery, transparency and managing expectations seriously, particularly during this pandemic. Information was being shared publicly with news media and commissioners during their April 1 Board meeting, and MPRB leadership felt obligated to share it with staff and the public.

Will beaches and pools open?

Outdoor aquatic facilities will not open this summer. This includes:

  • Beaches
  • Wading pools
  • Waterparks
  • Webber Natural Swimming Pool

The level of public congregation that takes place at aquatic facilities and the level of staff required to operate these facilities will make it impossible to open and manage these facilities safely this summer.

With almost 80 outdoor aquatic amenities (62 wading pools, 12 beaches, two waterparks, one natural swimming pool), the MPRB has more aquatic amenities than any other city in Minnesota and possibly the country. Maintaining and operating these facilities takes significant lead time and requires significant staff resources.  At this time, the MPRB workforce has already been impacted by COVID-19. Considering concerns about being able to provide these amenities in a way that would support social distancing, the time frame and resources required to open them and demands on our workforce, we are not opening these facilities at this time.

When will bathrooms and drinking fountains open for the season?

Bathrooms and drinking fountains will remain closed. The proximity of people’s mouths and noses to drinking fountains while they are in use creates an unacceptable level of risk for spreading COVID-19, so drinking fountains will remain closed. Also, at this point the MPRB cannot guarantee the high level and frequency of disinfection needed to keep COVID-19 from spreading at public restrooms, so restroom buildings will also remain closed.

Temporary portable restrooms are available at many parks.  If the portable restroom need servicing, please call the vendor directly at the number printed on the outside of the toilet.

Are MPRB recreation centers and program buildings closed?

MPRB recreation centers and program buildings will remain closed until further notice. This includes MPRB’s 47 recreation centers, ice arenas, Kroening Interpretive Center, Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden visitor shelter, and golf course clubhouses.

Public program buildings will not be reopened unless social distancing can be assured and staff can operate and clean the facility.

Children can get access to free meals while schools and recreation centers are closed; details at https://health.mpls.k12.mn.us/meal_sites

Are MPRB programs, classes, and leagues cancelled?

Unless a program can be done virtually or adjusted for social distancing, spring and summer programs, athletics and leagues will be cancelled. The MPRB is following MDH guidelines and intends to allow as many spring and summer recreational opportunities as possible, including:

  • All restaurants/concessions still intend to open per usual, including takeout options as directed via the Governor’s orders.
  • Sailing School (both in-house and contracted) programming is currently under evaluation for the opportunity of safe summer operation.
  • All watercraft and other rentals are slated to open as normal, with social distancing and sanitization planning.
  • Sailboat buoy program is still scheduled to operate, with a delayed buoy draw process
  • Canoe rack storage are still scheduled to operate this season.
  • Boat launches are slated open May 1.
  • Fishing, sailing, canoe docks will be installed per usual.
  • Lakes are open for boating and fishing.
  • Summer recreation center programming is being evaluated for safe summer operation; however, registration is currently on hold. This includes Music and Movies daily summer programs.
  • Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden intends to open for the season – with social distancing measures in place for safe enjoyment of the space.

Are MPRB events cancelled?

All MRPB events are cancelled through August 31, 2020. MPRB staff will work with event partners to determine if an event can be moved to later in the year, but it’s anticipated that the majority of all MPRB spring and summer events will be cancelled.

This is for MPRB produced events such as Red White & Boom and smaller neighborhood park events; it does not include permitted events to outside organizations, such as:

  • All permitted events and permitted programs as scheduled are still on, unless external organizers choose to postpone or cancel their events. For instance, the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon (which is a non-MPRB event) is still scheduled as planned.
  • All weddings and wedding receptions in Park facilities are still on as planned after facilities re-open

How can I stay informed of any COVID-19 related changes in MPRB operations or services?

Visit minneapolisparks.org/coronavirus for updated FAQs and cancellation listings.

Receive timely email updates by visiting minneapolisparks.org/subscribe, entering your email and selecting the “COVID-19” topic in the “News Updates” section.

Can I view MPRB Board meetings remotely?

Public health officials are encouraging social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. The MPRB encourages members of the public who do not have an essential need to attend MPRB Board meetings to view them through the live and recorded webcast and TV options. the following live and recorded options:

 

Members of the public who would like to share comments during Open Time of a Board of Commissioners meeting are encouraged to submit them by email. In person Open Time comments will continue to be heard.  Email addresses are available in the “contact” section for each commissioner at www.minneapolisparks.org/commissioners.  If an individual submitting Open Time comments via email would like those comments to be read during Open Time, a copy of the comments should be sent to the Secretary to the Board at jringold@minneapolisparks.org before 3:30 pm on the day of the meeting. Comments submitted should be limited to approximately 300 words, which is similar to three minutes when read out loud.

Will MPRB Board meetings go virtual?

As part of its social distancing initiatives, MPRB Commissioners will call in and audio of the meeting will be viewable via normal webcast and TV options. The public is encouraged to view the meeting from home and submit Open Time public comments by email. Although commissioners will not be physically present, the Board meeting is open to the public, in person comments can still be made during scheduled Open Time, and social distancing will be encouraged.   Board meetings start at 5 pm and are held in the Board Room at the MPRB Mary Merrill Headquarters, 2117 West River Road North, Minneapolis. Meeting agendas are online.

 

A Note about the Open Meeting Law and COVID-19

The State of Minnesota Department of Administration has offered the guidance regarding the COVID-19 health pandemic and the Open Meeting Law. They highlight Minnesota Statutes, section 13D.021. Section 13D.021, subdivision 1 which permits public bodies to hold meetings via telephone or other electronic means if the conditions of this section are met.

Section 13D.021 requires a public body to make a determination that an in-person meeting is “not practical or prudent because of a health pandemic or an emergency declared under chapter 12.” At this time, the governor has declared an emergency under Ch. 12.

Requirements for holding a meeting via telephone or other electronic means include:

  1. All participating members can hear one another;
  2. Members of the public at the physical meeting location can hear all discussion “unless attendance at the regular meeting location is not feasible due to the health pandemic”;
  3. At least one member of the public body is present at the meeting location, “unless unfeasible due to the health pandemic”; and
  4. All votes are taken by roll call.

To the extent practical, public bodies should allow the public to monitor the meeting remotely, pursuant to subdivision 3 of this section. However, the public body may charge for the costs incurred as a result of those additional monitoring connections.

Are MPRB headquarters and southside operations center open for business?

In an effort to address concerns related to COVID-19 and implement Minnesota Department of Health recommendations, the following building access changes will be in place March 18 – April 10:

  • MPRB Headquarters will be closed to the public, except for the April 1 Board meeting. During scheduled Board meetings, which begin at 5 pm, the public may access the main floor atrium and the Board Room.
  • South Side Operations Center will be closed to the public.

Will MPRB community meetings (not Board meetings) be cancelled?

Public health officials are encouraging social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to Board meetings, the MPRB often holds community engagement meetings and Community Advisory Committee meetings. Upcoming non-essential community engagement meetings and open houses are being cancelled or rescheduled, and we are exploring options for having these types of meetings done virtually or by phone/conference line.  Check online and subscribe to GovDelivery to receive timely updates.

What can Minnesotans do to protect themselves and prepare for COVID-19?

The Minnesota Department of Health is leading the statewide response to COVID-19 and guidance for all Minnesotans is available on the website at www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus. Additional information is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Is information available in multiple languages?

The Minnesota Department of Health website features materials and resources on COVID-19 in multiple languages.