July 15, 2020
The Parks and Recreation department has begun reinstalling basketball hoops that were taken down months ago as part of an effort to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
City workers have put hoops back up at 85 public spaces as of Wednesday, according to Billy Penn. They had removed them from 158 basketball courts in late March. The remainder of the hoops should be in place by the end of next week.
As the COVID-19 outbreak escalated in the early spring, Parks and Recreation staffers removed the rims from popularly-used courts and locations where the city received complaints of people disregarding social distancing guidelines.
The department maintains more than 400 basketball courts.
City officials have permitted people to continue exercising outdoors throughout the outbreak, though they have encouraged residents to wear masks and stay at least six feet apart from others.
As the hoops returned, some courts quickly began to draw crowds, raising some concerns.
Rick Ford, the vice chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission and president of the Advisory Council of Mander Playground, said he feared basketball games could lead to "super spreaders."
"There was 100 people out here playing basketball yesterday," Ford told FOX29 last week. "They’re sweating, they’re spitting, they’re shouting, they’re hollering and so those droplets are traveling."
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott-Lovell, issued a statement in response, noting that outdoor sports are permitted under the green phase of Pennsylvania's reopening plan – with safety modifications in place.
"Basketball plays an important role in many Philadelphians’ physical and mental health," Ott-Lovell said.