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Playgrounds reopen in Willmar and Olivia

Playgrounds in Olivia and Willmar are now open, after being closed for nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune

OLIVIA — On the eve of the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend, the cities of Olivia and Willmar have announced they are reopening their public playgrounds, as is the Willmar Dog Park.

Both announced the reopening on Friday afternoon. The play equipment had been closed at the end of March, due to concerns of spreading COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. As of Friday Kandiyohi County had 443 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while Renville County has only five confirmed positive cases.

Equipment users are being asked to follow social distancing guidelines along with practicing good hand washing or sanitizing and not to use the equipment when ill. At playgrounds, there should be no gathering of 10 or more people at one time, in accordance with the state's current executive order.

"Please play responsibly ... but let's get out there and play!" said Olivia City Administrator Dan Coughlin in a Facebook post.

Willmar is also asking those using the dog park not to gather in groups of any size and for people to avoid petting dogs that are not theirs. The public should also follow the same health guidelines as those using the playgrounds.


While the public can now swing and slide to their heart's content, it is at their own risk. Olivia and Willmar have announced the equipment will not be cleaned or sanitized.

"It is almost impossible to keep your playground equipment clean," said Rob Baumgarn, Willmar Parks and Recreation director.

Baumgarn added that decisions and information regarding activities at ballparks, parks and recreation programming and whether the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center will open this year will be coming over the next few weeks.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.

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