What the Ohio “Stay At Home” Order Means for Parks

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Governor Mike DeWine announced that Ohio will enter a period of “Stay At Home” as ordered by state Heath Department Director Amy Acton. The order requires that all Ohioans remain at home in effort to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The order goes into effect Monday, March 23 at 11:59 p.m. and remains in effect until April 6. Dr. Acton issued a new stay at home order that begins on April 7, 2020 and lasts through May 1, 2020.

A woman holding her dog while in a park

What the Ohio “Stay At Home” Order Means for Cincinnati Parks

With the issuing of the Stay At Home order, come many questions. You may be wondering if you are allowed to leave the house at all, if you can walk the dog, or take a hike in the woods.

The answer is yes.

Leaving the home for “essential activities” is permitted in the Stay-At-Home order, including participating in outdoor activity.  “Get out and find a place you can walk. It’s part of the mental health, we all have to get through this,” said Governor DeWine during his March 22 press conference. Dr. Amy Acton added, “Walking your dog, going on that hike, those things will be ok.” However, both stressed the need to follow social distancing practices and to engage in these activities alone or with an individual’s immediate social group.

Section 5c of the Stay At Home Order states:

“To engage in outdoor activity [is allowed], provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas. However, public access playgrounds may increase spread of COVID-19, and therefore shall be closed.”

Cincinnati Parks has signed a joint statement with the National Recreation and Park Association, and more than 500 agencies, partners, and like-minded organizations supporting the continued use of our parks and open spaces during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please note that while Cincinnati Parks are open, Parks’ playgrounds, play equipment, and most park bathrooms are closed.

Utilizing Parks For Your Mental Health

Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong negative emotions in adults and children. Effectively coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Research supports the positive impact that getting outdoors can have on mental health, particularly during stressful life events. Reconnecting with nature can reduce your anxiety and depression, while boosting your mood and mental well-being.

  • Take a break from screen-time. Limit your time reading COVID-19 news stories or on social media.
  • Visit your neighborhood park. Go for a bike ride, take a hike, or have a picnic in the grass.
  • Take care of your body. Eat healthy and exercise regularly.
  • Make time to unwind. Do activities you enjoy.

We need our Cincinnati Parks more than ever. Take a moment every day to get outside, take a deep breath, and enjoy a moment of respite during these stressful times.

Note: If you are sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, or if you are under quarantine for any reason, you should not go outside and should follow CDC guidelines regarding staying indoors. 

Parks Bathrooms That Are Open

Beginning Tuesday, March 24th the following Parks restrooms will be open 7 days/week from 7:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
• Smale Riverfront Park at Walnut Street
• Twin Lakes at Eden Park
• Ault Park Heekin Overlook
• Burnet Woods Bandstand
• Alms Park Pavilion
• Mt. Echo Park Pavilion
• Mt. Airy Entrance
• Mt. Airy Dog Park
• McEvoy Park
• Washington Park (maintained by 3CDC, hours may differ)
• Fountain Square (maintained by 3CDC, hours may differ)

Areas Closed to the Public:

  • Tennis courts and volleyball courts. Basketball courts and disc golf courses will close on April 3 at 5PM
  • Gates to Twin Lakes at Eden Park are closed to vehicular traffic until further notice
  • Some Park Restrooms
  • All Playgrounds and Play Equipment
  • All drinking fountains
  • Parks Administrative Building at 950 Eden Park Drive
  • Riverfront at 705 East Pete Rose Way
  • Planning, Design & Facilities at 2625 Reading Road
  • Bettman Natural Resource Center at 4 Beech Lane
  • All Cincinnati Parks Nature Centers