Local authorities urged to reopen public parks

Taman Persekutuan Bukit Kiara, a popular spot with exercise enthusiasts, is one of many public parks closed during the lockdown.

LOCAL authorities in Klang Valley have been urged to review their decision to close public parks during the lockdown period.

Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it was important to allow people, especially those living in low-cost flats, to have a suitable space for physical exercises.

Lee, who is committee chairman of Taman Pudu Ulu, a public park under Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), said prolonged isolation at home with family members was bound to create tension, which could lead to deterioration of mental health.

“People need some space to release pent-up energy.

“They will be bored if they are cooped up at home for too long.

“What if the lockdown is extended? The relevant authorities must come up with a solution to this matter, ” he said.

DBKL announced on May 31 that it would close all public parks under its jurisdiction from June 1 to 14 in light of the lockdown announced by the government.

On the same day, National Landscape Department announced on its official Facebook page that it would close Taman Persekutuan Bukit Kiara in Taman Tun Dr Ismail without giving an exact reopening date.

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) followed suit the next day, announcing that all its public playgrounds, parks and hiking trails would be off-limits to the public.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had announced that sports and recreational activities would be limited to jogging and non-contact exercises during the lockdown.

These activities can take place in a neighbourhood from 7am to 8pm, subject to the usual standard operating procedure.

Lee said although people were allowed to exercise in their neighbourhood, this presented some health and safety concerns.

“Safety risk increases because of traffic on roads and they are also exposed to exhaust fumes, which is unhealthy, ” he said.

He noted that local authorities could consider opening parks if they ensured proper precautions were taken.

“The types of activities that are permitted should be limited to jogging and brisk walking with no group activities.

“Enforcement officers should be stationed to monitor compliance and ensure physical distancing, ” said Lee, adding that they should issue fines if SOP was not followed.

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