BUFFALO, N.Y. — Despite the nicer weather, concerns still linger over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in part on Twitter, "I'm shocked at how many people are out. Please take this seriously folks. Hospitalizations and ICU visits are going up. PLEASE #StayHome!" 

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown voiced similar concerns in a news conference from Delaware Park.

"We don't want people to come into contact with each other and possibly spread coronavirus," he said.

For the time being, large gatherings are not permitted at city parks.

"Our parks are only open for passive purposes, walking, running, walking your dog, and maintaining a proper, safe, social distance," Brown said.

Added Andrew Rabb, the Deputy Commissioner for Parks and Recreation for the City of Buffalo: "All of the sports activities are closed, also all of the playgrounds and fitness equipment stations are closed." 

The restrictions are being enforced by parks' workers and city officials. 

"We have police that are driving and walking through our parks, letting people know if they're engaging in an activity that's not allowed," Brown said.

Thursday evening, the Town of Cheektowaga released a statement saying in part, "In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic as well as through interpersonal contact, the Town of Cheektowaga has decided to close all playground equipment, as well as basketball and roller hockey courts in every town park until further notice."

For Erie County, the parks are currently open, but playground equipment is closed off while residents continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a warning about parks and recreational areas, the Erie County Sheriff's office also urged people to "maintain social distancing and don’t gather in large groups."

Overall, local leaders say you're encouraged to get outdoors, as long as you stay six feet apart from those outside of your household. 

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