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Evanston police say officers will be patrolling city parks and open spaces to enforce Gov. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Cmdr. Brian Henry says that while city parks remain open, all physical equipment, including playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts and soccer fields, are closed for public use until further notice.

Henry says officers have been directed to engage with citizens participating in outdoor activity.

“We recognize this is a difficult and unique situation for everyone, and has tremendous impact on the lives of our community,” Henry says, adding that the department’s intention is not to cause additional stress or financial hardship with enforcement, but rather to educate citizens to hopefully gain community wide compliance.

The governor’s emergency executive order directs all residents to stay at home, to leave only for essential activites and when they do to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person.

Essential activities include going to the doctor or pharmacy, obtaining necessary supplies and services, outdoor activity while practicing social distancing, work related to essential businesses or operations, caring for family, friends and pets and obtaining public health or human services

The order also prohibits all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household with lmited exceptions for essential activities. Groups of more than 10 people in a public location are prohibited.

Henry says, “It is our priority to continue to keep the community safe during this public health crisis. Officers will resort to enforcement action if left with no other option.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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