Many public parks in Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Tuscumbia remain open, but mayors and parks and recreation directors are strongly discouraging large gatherings of people as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

All indoor facilities in the three cities are closed to the public, but employees are still doing business behind locked doors.

All city recreational league sports programs have been halted.

After hearing reports of groups of 10 to 12 young people playing basketball at Rivermont Park, Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford decided to close some parks to the public, but will leave access to the boat ramp at Riverfront Park open.

The playground, which is not fenced in, is being closed, as is access to Avalon Avenue Park and Rivermont Park where the gate has been closed.

"If you've got to get out, try to use your back yard," Sanford said.

Feel free to walk your dog through your neighborhood, he said, but don't do it with a group of people.

"We're trying to keep people from congregating," Sanford said. 

In Tuscumbia, Mayor Kerry Underwood and Parks and Recreation Director Joel Kendrick said Spring Park is open for people wanting to get some fresh air, but residents are discouraged from gathering in large groups and from using the playground.

"For the most part, our parks are open," Kendrick said. "Ball fields are closed, obviously. Leagues are suspended. Spring Park is still open. People need a place to go where they can be in an open space, in my opinion."

Signs have been posted telling people to avoid the playground.

"It's impossible to keep them germ free," Kendrick said.

Muscle Shoals Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Wheeles said they shut down their playgrounds, ball fields and gymnasiums, and cancelled all recreation department league sports.

The walking trail and disc golf course at Gattman Park remains open.

"On our Facebook page, we try to tell people to be aware of what's going on," Wheeles said. "We can't police the parks all day long."

Tennis courts and the Cypress Lakes Golf Course remain open, Wheeles said. Social distancing protocols have been put in place at the Cypress Lakes clubhouse.

Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford said City Hall remains open for the time being. He is still evaluating whether or not to close and ask residents to make appointments for city business.

He said there are glass partitions that protect city employees.

Florence city parks remain open, but playgrounds were closed last week.

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