GREENWICH, CT — During a press update Thursday, First Selectman Fred Camillo announced a handful of town parks will partially re-open starting next week. Beginning Monday, April 27, Binney, Bruce and Byram parks will be open for the use of walking paths only.
According to Camillo, the fields, playgrounds, parking lots and restrooms at the parks will remain closed, as will the beach at Byram Park. Additionally, new signage detailing proper park use will be installed.
Beginning Monday, May 4, Cos Cob Park will also be open to walkers from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., however there will be park monitors on site to “allow for controlled access” and ensure walkers adhere to social distancing protocols, Camillo said. The playing field, playgrounds and restrooms will remain closed, but visitors will be able to park at the Cos Cob train station.
Starting April 30, there will also be limited access two days per week to town marinas for boat owners whose vessels are in winter storage, Camillo said. He also noted specific details on which days and the hours of access will be communicated via email to those boat owners.
“Most people I have spoken with, people who have emailed me or texted me, have been extremely supportive of the decisions to close town facilities,” Camillo said in a statement. “That being said, we also want to be able to allow use of these larger parks in a very measured way, and in a way that will not contribute to the spread of the virus.”
Camillo also emphasized the importance of continuing to wear face masks and practice social distancing as walkers return to the parks.
“I am truly appreciative of the public’s cooperation so far and hope that residents can enjoy some of our great outdoors,” Camillo said, “[however] I am ready to pull back on the use of the parks if social distancing and face mask protocols are not followed.”
Camillo noted he and Parks and Recreation Director Joe Siciliano, along with Greenwich Police, continue to review potential operations at the Griffith E Harris Golf Course, as well as Greenwich Point Park.
Siciliano and his staff are also continuing to review the impact of the new coronavirus on special events, particularly those that draw large crowds, Camillo said. Decisions concerning the annual Memorial Day parade and the Fourth of July fireworks displays at Greenwich Point Park and Binney Parks are expected to be announced soon.
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During the press update, Camillo noted that the decision to partially reopen the parks did not come from any kind of outside pressure.
“When we closed things down, we didn’t do it permanently,” Camillo said. “So, we always had a plan to open it up…everything we’re doing is going to be measured, and if we find out people are not following the protocols or the guidelines, then we will pull back.”
He also assured that the partial reopenings are going to be handled in a very measured way.
“We want people to enjoy themselves, and we want them to be physically fit and get out there and get their exercise; that’s really important,” Camillo said, “but at the end of the day, it has to be done in a way that is not going to infect or re-infect people. We’ve worked too hard to get to this point to take a few steps backwards.”
The number of Greenwich residents who have tested positive for the new coronavirus has risen to 608 as of Thursday, April 23, according to Greenwich Health Department Director Caroline Baisley. That number is 26 more than the 582 positive cases reported Wednesday by town officials.
Additionally, Greenwich Hospital reports that, as of Thursday, there were 99 patients who tested positive for the virus, also referred to as COVID-19, being treated in several different units of the facility, town officials said.
So far, 305 patients have been discharged from the hospital and continue their recuperation at home. To date, 4,148 people have been tested at the hospital, with 1,520 people testing positive, town officials said.
All of these numbers reflect both patients who live in Greenwich and patients from other areas in Connecticut, as well as Westchester County, N.Y., town officials said.
While this week has seen lower increases in the number of residents testing positive for the virus, First Selectman Fred Camillo encouraged residents Tuesday to continue taking necessary precautions.
“You have to continue doing what you’re doing,” Camillo said during a press update Tuesday. “We’re encouraged by some of the numbers, but we’re not there yet.”
The lower increases in positive cases announced earlier in the week contrasted heavily with numbers released last week, which saw large daily increases. On Tuesday, April 14, town officials reported 394 positive cases, which was the largest daily increase of confirmed cases in town at the time. That increase was eclipsed the following day, when the total rose to 499.
Greenwich Health Director Caroline Baisley noted last week those high increases were attributable to a lag in test results being tabulated and input in to the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s computer systems, as many of those newly reported cases involved patients who were tested “two to three weeks ago.”
Camillo also announced last week that Town Hall will remain closed to all employees through May 20, in accordance with other closure dates issued by Gov. Ned Lamont. Town Hall was originally ordered closed through April 22, officials said.
All employees are expected to continue to work from home and to be available by phone and email during business hours.
“The town will continue to provide limited services where possible,” town officials said in a statement. “If you need a town service, please first visit the department’s webpage. Our website and email are the preferred methods of communication during this time.”
Staff will make periodic checks of voicemail boxes, however residents are asked to allow additional time for responses during this period of time.
“Given the unprecedented fluidity of this situation, expectations and operations may change at any time,” officials said.
During a recent press update, Camillo said town departments continue to operate smoothly even though most residents’ needs must be met either online or over the phone, and he has not received any complaints.
“For the most part, I have not been contacted by anyone who has been having a hard time,” Camillo said.
See also: Greenwich Coronavirus Updates: 582 Residents Test Positive
COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.
This article originally appeared on the Greenwich Patch