All playgrounds, picnic shelters, basketball courts and ball fields in Williamsburg were officially shut down effective Saturday morning by order of Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison due to coronavirus concerns, and Williamsburg police are assisting in enforcing those closures.
Harrison announced the closures in a nine-minute Facebook video posted Friday evening from Williamsburg City Hall.
He estimated that about 80 percent of people are already staying away from crowds and socially distancing.
“We still have people that are getting together in groups. They are not six feet apart. It is just too many people too close. As much as I hate this, I am going to have to do some action myself … All recreational facilities will be shut down,” Harrison said.
“The only things that are going to be left open are trails and walking paths that way you can get out, do some exercising and get a breath of fresh air. Any kind of grouping in places, such as basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, shelters and especially playgrounds and playground equipment will be closed to the public.”
Harrison added that it really pains him to shut down these facilities because for so long, people have been trying to get children to get off their phones and go outside, play and get some fresh air.
Harrison said he is feeling optimistic with the onset of warmer weather that the end to the emergency may come sooner rather than later, but he added we know it will last at least two to three more weeks.
“The sun will shine. The weather will get warmer. Restaurants and the other stores will open back up. Revitalization of downtown will start back up, and everywhere else business will pick back up,” he said. “Just right now for just a little while longer let’s think of each other.”
The Williamsburg Police Department is patrolling the closed areas, and enforcing the closures.
The department announced Monday evening that officers would be responding to incidents of non-compliance with social distancing restrictions at the request of public health officials and in response to incidents of non-compliance.
“Social distancing restrictions are proving effective, and to best Serve and Protect the citizens of Williamsburg during this public health emergency, officers will enforce size and density limitations on groups and public gatherings,” the police department stated in a Facebook post.
These restrictions include there not being more than 10 people together at a time, and groups that are together staying six feet away from one another.
Those who fail to disperse, are found trespassing or who fail to comply with lawful orders will be cited, the post stated.
“Essential businesses that remain open also have a right to protect their customers and may request law enforcement to remove anybody who poses a safety risk or refuses to comply with store rules. Through this health emergency, law enforcement will act to ensure that those who are careless with their own safety and health do not harm law abiding citizens’ efforts to protect themselves and their families,” according to the post.
Williamsburg police added that they will continue to enforce all laws, including making arrests for driving under the influence, and that contrary to some discussions, there are no temporary exceptions to existing laws.
Corbin is taking some similar measures to enforce social distancing.
Early Friday, the City of Corbin shutdown the Larry Stevens Playground, the Rotary Skate Park, and the Wilson Street basketball courts due to coronavirus concerns.