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Cobb Commission Chair defends closing parks

Cobb among the few jurisdicitions to close its parks during the pandemic crisis.

MARIETTA, Ga. — Cobb County Commission chairman Mike Boyce says Cobb County could double-down on its coronavirus pandemic restrictions if residents do not comply with an order issued on Tuesday to close the county's parks.

Terrell Mill Park in Cobb County had a very user-unfriendly stretch of yellow tape at its entrance Wednesday.

Yet, that did not stop folks accustomed to using the park from continuing to do so -- despite the order closing Cobb County's 44 parks.

Boyce said the county closed the parks because those using the parks over the weekend were not staying "socially distant."

"For instance, in the parks," Boyce said. "People were gathering in large groups in the pavilions."

Boyce said he drove past Terrell Mill Park on Wednesday and saw people disregarding the county's order to stay out.

RELATED: Cobb County declares state of emergency, bans public gatherings of more than 10 people

He said he had heard that bicyclists were still using the now-closed Cobb portion of the Silver Comet Trail.

"What we're doing is in your best interest," Boyce said. "If you choose to ignore those (orders) and we do not get the desired effect from the state of emergency, I can assure you we will double down on our restrictions here to make sure people comply with the six-foot guidelines and the no more than ten (people in one place rule)."

Cobb is one of the few jurisdictions to close its parks in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Other communities have closed park playgrounds, restrooms and other park facilities while still allowing people onto the grounds.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia: Second Atlanta Police officer tests positive for coronavirus

Cobb County’s restrictions came at around the same time the city of Atlanta issued its own restrictions -- which pointedly exempted the popular Atlanta BeltLine and other city parks from its restrictions.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Tuesday there was a reason.

"(During) this isolation period, it’s still going to be important for mental and physical health reasons" to be outdoors in parks, she said.

Yet, even that’s debatable, according to a wellness coach who lives in West Midtown and exercises in city parks.

Francheska Flores is a wellness coach who says that she has all-but-stopped exercising on the BeltLine and in Atlanta's parks -- because their patrons are not respecting social distance guidelines designed to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flores said she thinks, like Cobb County, the city should close its parks.

"Because people aren’t following the recommended procedures," Flores said. "Even for a week, I think they should shut down the parks, unfortunately. Because if it’s not mandated, people are going to continue doing it and not following the social distancing."

But Flores does think the city should close down the parks and BeltLine for only a week -- just to send patrons a message that the pandemic is serious business.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 


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