What You Need To Know: Staying Safe Outdoors
Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new series What You Need To Know: Coronavirus provides succinct, fact-based information to help you get through the coronavirus pandemic with your health and sanity intact.
Atlanta Beltline CEO Clyde Higgs speaks with GPB's All Things Considered host Rickey Bevington about best practices to stay safe if you must go out to locations like the BeltLine and other outdoor green spaces.
So before families step out the door, what are some top key things to remember?
Yeah. So first of all, for the BeltLine, when we fully embrace the tenets of social distancing— I will tell you right now, I literally am right here at home because I'm really taking the lead from the governor and the mayor to actually practice sheltering in place—I'm here.
I'm not on the BeltLine, but just the basic tenets of separating at least six feet, making sure that you're doing the good old fashioned washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
We are discouraging— I will tell you, though— people from getting on the BeltLine just for general use. But I will say, also, that we are still allowing people to get on the BeltLine for what we describe as essential uses. That may be getting to your physician. That may be getting to a pharmacy for your medical supplies. That may be getting to a grocery store. That may be getting back and forth to your job. And also, if you need to get out just for your mental wellbeing, there are places where you can get out on the BeltLine that are a little less crowded from the traditional Eastside Trail of the BeltLine.
Now, no matter where people are in Georgia, the weekend is upon us. They're going to want to get outside. So say I'm outside for whatever reason and it's pretty crowded. The BeltLine can be a tight space, but maybe I'm in a state park where there's just a lot of people. What do I do?
Honestly, what we would love for you to do is just stay home. That is the marching orders. We'd love for you to stay home, but if you can't, go to areas that are not crowded. We don't need to all go to the same place. And again, from a BeltLine standpoint, it is seven miles of built trail to date. And if you go to certain segments of the BeltLine, it is not that crowded on the Westside Trail of the BeltLine or the Southside Trail of the BeltLine.
But we are really asking people... you don't have to get out. Just stay at home. Again, I am literally an outdoors person, but I am inside right now and if I have to get out, it's going to be for one of those essential uses.
Parents need to get their kids out of the house. That's what we're hearing right now. They want to go to playgrounds. How can kids be safe at playgrounds? What do parents need to know?
Well, playgrounds specifically within the city are not officially open, but there are some opportunities out there. Again, we have lots of good public spaces that aren't necessarily frequented in a dense way. And so, get on our website. And I will say that the BeltLine website is robust with information with green space and places for people to enjoy that are a little less dense than the traditional Eastside Trail that we describe for the BeltLine.
Why are some communities shutting down public green spaces and others, like the city of Atlanta, choosing to keep them open?
It's a fair question. I will tell you specifically within the city of Atlanta— the BeltLine first, it is a transportation corridor. That's how the project started. And if you look at some of the bigger projects like the BeltLine across the country, I would say the majority of them are still "open for a central use." And so from a best practices perspective, most of the linear greenways and trails across the country— at least inside of our network of projects— are still open.
We really pay attention to some of the recommendations and suggestions that came out from Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Del Rio of Emory University suggesting that the BeltLine and parks could still stay open because this is also for people's well-being, mental well-being. Getting out there on the trail in places that are not very dense, I think it's good for people.
And I think we should point out that group sports are not allowed, picnics are not allowed. Any kind of group gathering really is a no-no right now.
That is correct. And so we have been very intentional, including direct signage specifically on the BeltLine in reminding people not to congregate. And that's what we are discouraging.
OK. There are members of our families that do need to go out no matter what. And that is our dogs. What advice do you have for dog walkers?
Yes, definitely. Get our furry members of our families out so that they can do their business. But again, I would stress finding places that are less dense for general walkers. And again, there's lots of places like that in the Atlanta area. There's lots of places like that in our beautiful state to get out. And you just don't need to do it in very dense places.