Park use restricted to exercise only
The City of Merced has immediately shut down all play equipment and shelters in its parks to comply with the April 8 order from the Merced County Health Officer.
The order directs everyone to stay home unless they are providing or receiving essential services. It comes when Merced County has three deaths and 40 cases of COVID19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
"This order from the County Health Officer is intended to stop the spread of the disease and save lives. We want to do our part," said City Manager Steve Carrigan.
"Use our parks to walk, jog, stretch your legs, play catch with your kids, but stay off the playground equipment," said Carrigan, "Absolutely no groups, no team sports, no practices are allowed in the parks. It's OK to bring your immediate family to the park, but that is it."
The order does not affect the regular use of bike paths or walking trails.
The order has an impact on local religious groups, but Carrigan said they have been cooperative with moving services online or cancelling them due to the health threat. "They understand the seriousness of the situation," he said. "Due to the danger, they can't have services in the parks or buildings. They don't want to spread COVID19 among the members."
Carrigan said the Merced Police Department will be patrolling parks and elsewhere in the City looking for any gathering that violates the County health order. "Our officers' first job is to educate people and explain to them the dangers involved," he said. "But if that doesn't work, we will cite them."
The order from the County Health Officer:
Directs all individuals living in the County to continue to stay at home unless they are providing or receiving essential services;
Directs all businesses and governmental agencies to cease non-essential operations at physical locations in the County;
Prohibits all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals (including church and funeral services);
Orders cessation of all non-essential travel; and
Restricts access to certain recreation areas (including parks and golf courses).
Failure to comply with the Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, county jail sentencing, or both.
More information on the COVID19 situation and help that is available to businesses, employees and the public is available at www.cityofmerced.org.