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You Asked: Are Suffolk parks still open?

Facilities across Suffolk are closing their doors and pretty much all events are canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Tuesday, the city of Suffolk website reports that all city facilities will be closed to the public through March 27, as well as all Suffolk recreational centers and the Suffolk Art Gallery. All city-managed events have also been canceled, as well.

There have also been questions from Suffolk News-Herald readers as to whether or not Suffolk parks are still open. The answer is yes, for the time being, Suffolk’s outdoor parks, playgrounds and walking trails are still open to visitors, Suffolk Parks and Recreation Director Mark Furlo confirmed on Tuesday.

That includes Bennett’s Creek Park at 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road; Lake Meade Park at 201 Holly Lawn Parkway, behind the Kroger on North Main Street; Lone Star Lakes Park at 401 Kings Highway; and Sleepy Hole Park, 4616 Sleepy Hole Road.

This means that Suffolk residents can visit the city’s parks to have fun outdoors, while still practicing “social distancing” to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“The benefits of parks are endless,” Furlo wrote in an email Tuesday. “During this highly stressful time, the Department of Parks & Recreation is committed to providing exceptional parks for citizens to enjoy nature, unwind, and get highly beneficial physical activity.”

“We do encourage park users to practice social distancing, regularly wash hands, and follow all (Centers for Disease Control) and state Health Department guidelines,” Furlo added.

Suffolk Parks and Recreation also has 16 walking trails throughout the city that are still open to the public. More information on these trails can be found online at suffolkva.us/509/Walking-Trails.

Visitors can also still use the kayak and canoe launches at Lone Star Lakes and Sleepy Hole parks, plus the launch at Constant’s Wharf on East Constance Road, behind Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront hotel.

While Suffolk residents enjoy their time outdoors, they should continue to follow the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both to protect themselves and to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially by continuing to practice social distancing.

“Suffolk Parks & Recreation manages over a thousand acres of parkland throughout the city, (and) these wide-open spaces are perfect for practicing social distancing,” Furlo wrote, adding that the city will continue to monitor guidelines from the state Health Department and the CDC to adjust city operations accordingly.

Visitors should maintain at least six feet of distance from each other. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, within about six feet of contact and through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to cdc.gov.

People should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol. They should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Residents also should cover their coughs and sneezes with tissue paper, then throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash their hands. Above all else, if you are sick, stay at home to prevent others from getting sick, as well.

Visit suffolkva.us/1399/Suffolk-Coronavirus-COVID-19-Updates for the latest updates and more information on the city’s response to COVID-19.

Suffolk Parks and Recreation is also now offering virtual fitness classes on Facebook Live, for residents to stay active while they stay isolated. Visit facebook.com/SuffolkParksandRec or suffolkva.us/266/Parks-Recreation for more information.