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Providence closes parks, running paths, and Triggs golf course due to coronavirus

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island's capital city on Thursday, March 12.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island's capital city on Thursday, March 12.Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE - Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Tuesday that he is ordering all Providence parks closed until at least May 1, the latest in a long line of state and local regulations designed to curb the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Elorza’s latest order also applies to common running areas, including Roger Williams Park, North Burial Ground, Blackstone Boulevard, and the Pleasant Valley Parkway, according to spokeswoman Emily Crowell.

Triggs Memorial Golf Course, the popular destination that has been serving only Rhode Island residents for the past week, will also be ordered to close beginning Wednesday.

“These next few weeks are absolutely critical and we need to do everything that we can to limit our social interactions in this time," Elorza said during a morning press conference.

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Elorza also extended his previous orders -- including the closure of the Providence Place mall -- until May 1.

Elorza said he has received too many reports of people congregating in large groups in the parks and at the golf course, and he thinks it’s “best to shut it all down” for the next several weeks.

Providence had 178 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Monday, and the statewide total reached 1,082. There were 109 Rhode Island residents who were in the hospital, and 27 had died.

Elorza has been among the most aggressive municipal leaders in the state when it comes to addressing the coronavirus, and his actions have often been a precursor to orders that Governor Gina Raimondo has ultimately issued for the entire state.

Raimondo already ordered public beaches and parks closed, but she has given residents wiggle room to take walks and run in parks. Elorza’s new restrictions appear to put a limit on even those common activities.

Elorza said he thinks it’s likely other cities and towns around the state will also opt to “shut it all down” as more coronavirus cases emerge in Rhode Island.

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When it comes to enforcing the new restrictions, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said people could be subject to $100 to $500 fines, but city officials hope people will police themselves.

Elorza said the city is also beginning discussions about implementing a mandatory curfew, but he hasn’t decided on whether to move forward with that kind of regulation.


Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.