Anchorage closes down playgrounds, but says parks and trails will remain open

All playgrounds in Anchorage have been closed until further notice. 

Over the weekend, municipal workers taped off all municipal playgrounds, including those on school grounds. The official closure was announced Monday online and by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at a press conference. 

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“We’ve closed playgrounds because the hard surfaces weren’t easy to clean, and kids being kids, had a desire to congregate more than they should have,” said Berkowitz at Monday’s press conference.

Berkowitz said that he was encouraged by social distancing efforts in the city, but encouraged residents to maintain distance. 

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“I was out on the coastal trail this weekend and it was really nice to see so many people out there, that made me feel good,” he said “What made me feel less good was people tended to bunch up a little bit and we can’t do that.”

Berkowitz said cell phone data showed that at one point, Anchorage led the nation in how much it had reduced social interaction, but since then had started to slip back in social distancing. Still, he said there were no plans to shut down the city’s recreation areas.

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“At this point, we have no plans to shut down parks or trails,” said Berkowitz.

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.