As parks, public spaces begin to reopen, some find conflicting rules over social distancing

ATLANTA — Normally this time of year, you'd find tennis courts across the city packed, but now they're empty and some people are confused about social distancing rules that seem to conflict with each other.

Atlanta's parks and recreation department website says tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds and pavilions are closed, but open spaces are open.

Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer spoke with one woman whose Atlanta tennis experience actually sent her packing for Florida so she could play.

Atlantan Julie Silber said she was in McClatchey Park in Atlanta’s Ansley Park neighborhood playing tennis when two city employees told her she had to go and then removed the nets.

“All of a sudden, officials from parks and rec showed up and said they were there to take the nets down,” Silber said. “I said, ‘Gosh, we've been playing here seven or eight weeks. Why are you here now?' We were told if we didn't get off the courts they'd call police.”


Silber is like many people in all parts of the metro area confused by what can seem like conflicting messages coming from the governor, mayors and various parks and recreation authorities.

Mark Banta, with Piedmont Park Conservancy, believes it's smart if people are smart.

“We do have a respite in the form of Piedmont Park, where people can come out and see fresh air and trees in bloom and see the park at a safe distance,” Banta said.

Silber told Farmer that it's easy to keep a safe distance in the game of tennis.

“Just doesn't make any sense from what we see in the city with large crowds at Piedmont Park and on the BeltLine. Why are they singling out tennis courts in a quiet neighborhood with people behaving themselves?” Silber said.

Farmer contacted Atlanta’s parks and recreation department on Monday. It sent him a statement saying:

The City’s parks, trails and greenspaces remain open to the public. However, amenities—including but not limited to playgrounds, all athletic fields, all courts (basketball, volleyball, tennis) and pavilions—remain closed.

For your reference, the attached signs are posted at City parks.

City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation Check ATL Parks and Rec on Facebook, Twitter and for additional temporary closures.

No Group Gatherings

The Following Amenities ARE CLOSED:

• Playgrounds

• Courts (Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis)

• Athletic Fields

• Pavilions

Keep 6 feet apart from other persons at all times

Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene prior to visiting parks or trails

In north Fulton County, Johns Creek announced Monday that its tennis courts will reopen Friday.

In Cobb County, Channel 2’s Chris Jose found people out and about enjoying parks as the county reopened its parks Monday, but playgrounds remained roped off.

Signs are also posted saying social distancing is required. The county said park pools, sports fields and bathrooms will remain closed until further notice.