A packed parking lot and trail at Chautauqua Park on Wednesday, March 25, in Boulder. Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam issued a “stay at home” public health order that took effect yesterday in the City of Boulder in response to the current coronavirus pandemic. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

Boulder parks and open spaces remained busy on Wednesday, almost 24 hours after an order from city authorities took effect to avoid any gathering and remain home unless going to work at a health care facility or providing or obtaining another “essential service” during the coronavirus pandemic.

A statewide mandate is now set to soon take effect, after two local orders this week from separate Boulder-area entities sought to limit businesses to minimal activity, aside from those necessary to provide goods and services most necessary to life under lock down.

The order by Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam preceded the statewide stay-home-order that will combine with municipal and regional mandates, with the most stringent of measures taking precedence in any areas of conflict; the state order’s language was set to be released at midnight. While so far they have allowed for outdoor activity with gathering limited, some residents have taken issue with what they’ve observed in Boulder’s public parks since initial shelter-in-place guidance became official.

Local realtor Michi Sakurai said her husband has been sick and she feels unwell herself, although neither has been able to receive testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. She said she was frustrated by witnessing group workouts, tennis court and playground usage take place in Harlow Platts near her home this week, including after the municipal order became enforceable.

The parking lot at Chautauqua Park was also full Wednesday afternoon.

“Yesterday after the (city order) took effect, everyone was playing Frisbee golf,” Sakurai said. “… Being from Japan, I have a different cultural outlook on things. When we have a problem, we help each other, we shame each other for breaking the rules, we out each other, we police each other. It’s really a cultural norm.”

In response to the stay-at-home orders, the Boulder Valley School District is closing all its elementary school playgrounds.

Certain park facilities will close, but the regional order lets residents get outside in groups of no more than four people. Experts have stressed it’s important to do to keep mentally healthy amid the widespread societal shutdown, a circumstance conducive to producing stir-craziness that also puts people prone to domestic violence or abuse constantly in close quarters with potential perpetrators.

Basketball courts, picnic areas, golf courses, playgrounds, tennis courts and all “similar areas conducive to public gathering,” would have been off-limits under the regional order.

“One person shooting a ball can invite more people to want to join and a game to start,” city Parks and Recreation spokesperson Denise White said, adding signage warning of the park facility closures is being installed this week. “We’re going to watch and see if we need to tape off anything. We’re hoping with the signage and people staying at home, that as a community the order is followed.”

Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks are remaining open, and mountain biking continues to be allowed, but visitors are encouraged to head to city properties at off-peak times, and to check out areas they may have never been before or are regularly less popular than those like Chautauqua and Mount Sanitas.

Driving to trail heads remains OK, but city open space spokesperson Phillip Yates said if parking lots are full, visitors are encouraged to find another place to blow off steam and spend their time outdoors.

“Trail heads are busy and full right now, be thoughtful about that,” Yates said. “If a parking area is full, move onto another trail head. Be thoughtful about how you go and when you go.”

Visitors are encouraged to bike or walk to open spaces if possible.

Yates also encouraged those who may hike or bike on open space to be familiar with their abilities and trail difficulties to prevent any injuries.

“Ride within your limits and don’t take risks. Now is not the time to send it, our healthcare system has enough to do without setting your broken collar bone,” the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance group posted on its web page dedicated to trail safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit to view current Boulder open space trail closures, which could currently be made due to muddiness.

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