MOUNT Gambier City Council has closed a number of public spaces in line with new restrictions announced by the Federal Government on Sunday.
The Blue Lake city’s two skate parks, numerous playgrounds and the four-month-old pump track have all been closed, with residents urged not to ignore the new community guidelines put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, a number of public toilets around the city have also been closed following incidents of theft – including toilet paper and soap – from several toilet blocks.
Despite the closures, council infrastructure general manager Nick Serle said a number of public areas would remain open to the community.
“There are several open spaces that are still open such as the Valley Lakes area, Hastings Cunningham Reserve, The Rail and Corriedale Park for people to maintain exercise,” Mr Serle said.
“We encourage people to get out and about and realise it is important for their mental and physical health, but we just ask that people be sensible and follow social-distancing guidelines.”
The city’s dog park – located at Hastings Cunningham Reserve – will also remain open.
“There are signs at the dog park advising people of the social-distancing rules that are in place, but it will remain open at this stage,” Mr Serle said.
“As long as people do the right thing, we will keep it open.”
With an early end to the school term for South Australian students from Friday, Mr Serle admitted council was concerned about congregations at playgrounds around the city.
“With Easter coming up as well there is that concern, but we just have to urge the community to follow the advice from the Federal Government,” Mr Serle said.
“That does not mean children have to stay inside playing computer games, as I mentioned there are still a number of open spaces for children to enjoy.”
Avid mountain biker Sam Madzia said it was a disappointing but understandable measure.
“Once they started shutting businesses down I sort of saw this coming and it is understandable given the circumstances,” he said.
“The sooner we all do the right thing, the sooner we can come out the other side and get back to riding.”
Fellow Mount Gambier resident Josh Boneham has ridden his BMX bike at the city’s skate parks for more than 18 years and admitted it was going to be difficult to adjust.
“Going out and riding bikes gives people a good relief and we just got the pump track, which is amazing,” Mr Boneham said.
“Now that has all been taken away, but it is understandable I guess because we have to do what we can to stop the spread.”
Describing the state of the world as “unreal”, he respected the complex issues politicians faced during this period.
“I’m sure there will be a few who will break the rules, but hopefully we can all just do the right thing,” he said.
Mr Serle said everyone had a role to play in keeping people accountable within the community.
“If you see people doing the wrong thing, you need to let them know and encourage them to follow the advice,” Mr Serle said.
“Council will certainly have a role to play in making sure people are doing the right thing.”
He indicated restrictions at council sites would not be lifted until the Federal Government advised it was safe to do so.