Nearly 100 residents have recovered from COVID-19

May 28, 2020 by

More town amenities re-open during Phase 1

Published May 28, 2020

By MAUREEN DOHERTY

NORTH READING — In its weekly update, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) informed the town on Thursday, May 21 that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases affecting North Reading had totaled 183, which included 119 residents and 64 patients living at or associated with the Royal Meadow View nursing and rehabilitation center.

Of this combined total, 99 patients had recovered by May 21, which is an improvement of 11 patients from the previous week, while the North Reading Health Department continued to monitor 70 patients, an increase of two.

There had been no change in the number of reported fatalities attributed to the disease from either the May 14 MDPH report or the May 12 local Board of Health report, by which time a total of 13 residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 12 at or associated with Royal Meadow View nursing and rehabilitation center, had died, and one person suspected of having COVID-19 had died.

Starting last week, the town has opted to align its weekly updates on Thursdays to coincide with the release of state totals and the meetings of the Board of Health, which has been meeting weekly since the outbreak began in early March.

Graduation plans not yet known

After press time on Wednesday, school and town officials were planning to meet remotely to once again discuss plans for a high school graduation ceremony in accordance with state guidelines. Late last Thursday the Mass. Association of School Committees (MASC) released guidelines announcing that the earliest an outdoor graduation ceremony could be held was Sunday, July 19 and outlined those requirements.

A late June date had been under consideration locally last week, prior to the release of the MASC directive, which will give the committee more details to ponder. We’ll let you know what we know as soon as an official decision is made, in print and online.

Various parks, amenities re-open

Following Gov. Baker’s announcement on May 18 of a four-part phased re-opening of businesses, parks and places where people gather, the town adjusted its policy on activities which may take place at its public parks and recreational facilities.

Social distancing restrictions still remain in effect at all towm parks, which require individuals to be six feet or more away from each other’s household members with gatherings of no more than 10 people. (If six-feet of separation cannot be maintained, facial coverings shall be worn by those over age 2 when in public, whether indoors or outdoors, unless the individual has an underlying health condition.)

Previously, only walking paths were open at Ipswich River Park and Eisenhaure Pond Park, as well as the track at Arthur J. Kenney Field. After Baker’s May 18 announcement, the boat launch and fishing areas at IRP were opened immediately, as were the walking paths and fishing areas at Clarke Park and the fishing area at Eisenhaure Pond Park.

Starting this past Tuesday, May 26, the town allowed the following park amenities to be reopened on a staggered basis with state guidelines in effect:

• Athletic fields (non-contact sports, no shared equipment)

• Tennis courts

• Skate park at Ipswich River Park

• Basketball courts

• Street hockey rink at Ipswich River Park

Restrooms, playgrounds, picnic areas closed

The town has decided that its restrooms, picnic areas and playground facilities, such as play structures and swings, will remain closed at this time. Such discretion is left to the cities and towns.

Specific guidance will be posted on-site at each park, however general state guidelines may be found by visiting: www.mass.gov/doc/parks-open-space-and-outdoor-education-best-practices-5-18-20/download.

State’s reopening standards

The following state guidelines apply to parks, open spaces and outdoor education programs during Phase 1 of the commonwealth’s reopening, effective May 18 until amended or rescinded.

All visitors to parks and open space, and managers associated with properties or activities at such places, should abide by the following specific guidelines:

• Property-specific guidelines should be posted at entrance points to areas and on relevant social media/websites.

• These guidelines apply to all parks, reservations and open spaces unless otherwise specified.

This guidance should apply until amended or rescinded. Any questions regarding this guidance can be sent to: outdoor.recreation@mass.gov.

DPH orders and guidelines

• Face coverings and masks: All visitors to parks and open spaces, as well as those participating in outdoor education programs, should comply with COVID-19 Order 31: “Order requiring face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible.”

The order requires any person over the age of 2, whether indoors or outdoors, to wear a face covering or mask when six feet of distance between themselves and others cannot be maintained, unless they have a medical condition preventing them from doing so. For further guidance visit: www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-state-of-emergency.

• Group size: No groups larger than 10 are allowed to gather per: www.mass.gov/doc/march31-2020-assemblage-guidance/download

Parks and open space guidelines

Walking, hiking, biking, running and other activities (yoga, tai chi, etc.,) are allowable activities in parks and other designated areas, such as rail trails, multi-use paths and bike paths.

• Visitors should always practice social distancing by remaining six feet away from others and adhering to all site-specific rules, regulations, and posted signage regarding permitted uses.

• On trails, walkers and hikers should move aside and leave room for others to pass, while cyclists and runners should alert other users when approaching and wait for others to step aside before passing.

• After visiting public spaces, users should use wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.

Athletic fields and non-contact courts (non-organized/permitted use):

• Athletic fields and athletic courts can be utilized only for non-contact sports, with no shared equipment, such as tennis and Pickleball.

• No permits should be issued for group gatherings and users should not engage in pick-up games, organized games or tournaments.

Athletic fields guidelines

• Users should sanitize hands before and after play, not share equipment, and clean and wipe down equipment.

• When engaged in play, athletes should avoid touching other athletes’ equipment in separate areas.

• Users waiting to utilize a section or area of the field should wait outside the field of play until previous users have vacated the facility to ensure proper social distancing and prevent accidental contact of other users’ equipment.

• Users should not engage in pick-up games, organized games or tournaments.

Athletic courts (non-contact) guidelines

• Users should sanitize hands before and after play, not share equipment, and clean and wipe down equipment, including racquets, balls and water bottles.

• Users waiting to utilize a court should wait outside the court’s gates/fence until previous users have vacated the facility to ensure proper social distancing and prevent accidental contact of other users’ equipment.

• Users should not engage in pick-up games, organized games or tournaments

Picnic areas and grills

• Picnic and grill areas should be closed if social distancing cannot be maintained and sanitizing protocols cannot be performed between use.

Trash disposal and public restrooms

Where available, trash disposal and restrooms facilities should be available for public use.

Trash disposal and restrooms at parks, reservations and open space managed by municipalities or other organizations for public use is available based on the discretion of the city or town it is in and/or the managing organization.

Trash disposal general guidelines

• Visitors of public parks, reservations and open spaces should expect limited or no trash disposal receptacles.

• When visiting public properties without trash receptacles, visitors should adhere to a strict “carry in, carry out” policy and take waste with them.

• Where trash receptacles are available for normal use, park managers should, where feasible, provide no-touch, lidless trashcans.

Public restrooms general guidelines

• Users should abide by social distancing standards for bathroom lines and follow any established visual guidelines for maintaining a six-foot distance in all restroom facilities.

• In advance of the initial opening of public restrooms, the managing entity should adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines pertaining to the cleaning and disinfection standards of operating procedures for interior spaces and that social distancing can be maintained.

• The managing entity should have the facilities cleaned at least once daily by staff and perform deep cleaning and disinfection services at least once per week and should follow the EEA COVID-19 “Outdoor recreation facility restroom cleaning best practices.”

• Composting (Clivus or similar) toilets should be permanently closed and should be replaced with temporary (seasonal) portable restrooms with daily cleanings.

• Restroom facilities should contain hand washing and/or sanitizer stations, and the public should use these stations following the use of the facilities.

Community garden guidelines

Community gardens and associated activities are permissible to the extent allowed by the managing entity.

• Users of community gardens should follow social distancing guidelines and should avoid utilizing communal tools, hoses and other equipment, and avoid the sharing of personal equipment whenever possible. Additionally, users are responsible for sanitizing items before and after each use.

• Community garden users should only visit and utilize plots with members of the same household if social distancing cannot be maintained.

• If crowding becomes an issue, community garden committees and property managers should create a schedule to avoid crowding of individual plot users and maintenance of social distancing protocols.

Outdoor education programs

Organized educational programs, activities and outdoor public art installations may occur in outdoor spaces during Phase 1 only if the program does not require individual participants to share equipment or make physical contact in order to engage in the activity, subject to the following guidelines.

• To allow for adequate social distancing for the activity, as well as ingress and egress, the layout of the class should be managed to accommodate a minimum of 12-foot distance between each individual activity station.

• Facial coverings are required, and instructor and participants must always comply with all social distancing requirements and remain six-feet apart. Programs must be conducted without shared equipment, tools or materials.

• Activities must be limited to gatherings of no more than 10, including instructor or leader.

• Organizers must use a pre-registration process to ensure group size.

• Instructors must be familiar with all protocols and procedures to maintain a safe activity, e.g. monitoring physical distancing, not allowing participants without facial coverings, disinfecting tables before and after use in accordance with CDC guidelines.

• Temporary signage will be posted to inform the public of public health guidelines and standards of behavior during program.

• If using outdoor displays or tables, add protective barriers, when possible and/or disinfect before and after use.

Non-commercial dog walking and dog parks

Non-commercial dog-walking and dog parks are allowable activities to the extent allowed by the managing entity.

• All dog walkers and their dogs should practice social distancing, and users should provide appropriate space for others and/or their dogs to pass when necessary.

• Social distancing for dogs means that dogs not part of the same household should be kept at least six feet apart and avoid interacting with other dogs and other people from separate households.

• Dog walkers should not share toys, treats or other materials with dogs that are not within the same household.

• Dog walkers should supply their own bags to pick up dog waste in the event there are none available on-site and remove dog and other waste and dispose of it either in a designated receptacle on site or at another appropriate location.

• Dog walkers should supply their own water and other needs for their pets in the event there are none available on site.

• All visitors of dog parks should maintain enough control over their pets via leash or voice control to comply with social distancing guidelines and site-specific rules and regulations.

• Dog park amenities, including shared water dishes, toys and other materials should not be used by dogs or handled by visitors.

• Visitors of dog parks should supply their own bags associated with dog waste in the event there are none available onsite and take dog waste with them if designated trash receptacles are not available for normal use.

• Property managers, where feasible, if trash is available, should provide no-touch, lidless trash cans.

The town’s previous COVID-19 updates may be found by visiting: https://www.northreadingma.gov/home/news/town-north-reading-coronavirus-covid-–-19-information.

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