Following the lead of Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, the Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Department and Fort Smith Public Schools have limited access to specific playground equipment.

In trying to slow the spread of COVID-19, the city of Fort Smith is taking measures to safeguard the public health. Following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Gov. Asa Hutchinson, this order will include all city-owned parks.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Reinert stated, “As temperatures warm up we want to go outside for fresh air. However, we must continue to practice social distancing and be aware of our surrounding. COVID-19 can remain on plastic and metal surfaces for days. Therefore, we must refrain from using playground equipment and exercise equipment in our parks. Ride your bikes, hike, go for a walk or go for a run, but remain at least 6 feet away from others. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often. Social gatherings of more than 10 are banned per directive from Gov. Hutchinson."

Fort Smith Public Schools is encouraging residents to follow the city and county guidance on playground equipment use for all FSPS playgrounds as well. A statement from the school district was issued Friday.

Fort Smith’s skate and bike park will remain open while the walking and biking trails will have strict social distancing rules. Those who choose to go for a walk or exercise outside are requested to maintain a distance of 6 feet from people who are not a part of their household.

City Administrator Carl Geffken said, “The Fort Smith Parks and Trails system are one of the city’s best assets and during this difficult period we want our residents to enjoy them. However, since the virus can live on hard surfaces for up to three days, we are restricting access to the playground equipment. Although going outside and taking a walk provides exercise and reduces anxiety and stress, we need to reduce the chance of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus.”