Public swimming pools in the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Parks will remain closed this summer, an announcement government officials made just as coronavirus restrictions were eased by the state. Fourth of July festivities and other big draws to the city are also cancelled.
The moves cast a bit of cold, unchlorinated water on hopes that life would return to normal despite the region being moved to a “yellow” reopening phase by Gov. Tom Wolf. In a mid-morning release, Mayor Bill Peduto praised residents for doing “a great job .. staying safe and looking out for each other.” But, he said, “The data shows the battle against this pandemic is far from over. … [W]e must keep social distancing and other measures in place to win this fight, even when we’re enjoying the outdoors.”
The city said that while swimming itself was safe the locker rooms and other areas around the pools “are too cramped to allow for appropriate distancing.” The move backs away from a course the city seemed to be setting last month, when it announced April 21 that it would begin recruiting lifeguards “in anticipation of pools opening sometime during summer 2020."
Spray parks and playgrounds would also remain closed, in accordance with federal guidelines.
The county, meanwhile, said it would close the half-dozen pools and spray parts in county park facilities, but emphasized other attractions like outdoor yoga, golf, and other other physically distanced activities would continue
The city also said it would not permit “large group events that cannot comply safely with social distancing.” Those include Fourth of July fireworks, city-sponsored concerts, summer youth camps and baseball, as well as the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race and other races.
Great Race organizers said they will still hold the event, slated for late September, virtually, with runners participating at home or in other safe spaces.
Some city activities will be taking place. Farmers Markets will begin June 3, while drive-in movies at city parks are set to commence June 13. Non-team sporting events like Frisbee golf and tennis will be allowed. Skate parks – which have been a source of controversy – will be open.
The city is also said a task force was studying "using some streets and sidewalks to allow for safe recreation and business activity," rather than vehicular traffic. And it said it planned to close some streets to traffic that run through parks in Sheraden, the West End and Highland Park. The city said it did not yet have a timeline for those moves.
Also yet to be determined were whether to open recreation and senior centers, whether to switch on park restrooms and water fountains, and whether to permit organized group sports or issue block party permits.