Basketball Courts In Springfield, Mass., Remain Closed Amid COVID-19 Fears

May 3, 2021

Springfield, Massachusetts, officials continue to field suggestions on reopening many of the city's basketball courts. They were closed at the beginning of the pandemic last year to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said she spoke recently with members of the community about how to safely reopen the courts.

But Caulton-Harris said she fears younger children catching and spreading COVID-19 as the city remains at a high risk.

"If there is a highly transmissible variant out there, and they go home and they have grandparents or parents in the house, there could be a potential of a cluster in a home," Caulton-Harris said.

Speaking to WAMC, City Council President Marcus Williams said that some other cities and towns in the region have reopened outdoor basketball courts.

"Perhaps there is a safe way for kids to play basketball with masks," Williams told WAMC. "I think those options should be explored."

In Pittsfield, the basketball courts reopened last July after they were temporarily shut down due to the virus.

James McGrath, parks and open space program manager for Pittsfield, said with many residents getting vaccinated and following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he and his staff felt it was safe to open the courts. He said social distance rules and capacity restrictions are still in place.

"COVID seems to be somewhat in check," McGrath said. "The vaccinations rates are high, so we are comfortable with moving towards a full reopening."

Governor Charlie Baker announced that on May 1o, Massachusetts will allow some outdoor facilities to reopen. Amusement parks, theme parks and outdoor water parks can operate at 50% capacity after submitting a safety plan to the state's Department of Public Health.

Youth and adult amateur tournaments will also be allowed for moderate and high risk sports, such as basketball.

This report includes information from State House News Service.