Parks COVID-19 Response

The health and safety of the county's residents and staff members are our highest priority. As such, we are closely monitoring developments around the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) and sharing safeguards and best practices as outlined by federal health authorities and state and local officials.

Parks and trails remain open for you to exercise and connect with nature - but some amenities within parks have been closed to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus and parking restrictions have been put in place at lakefront parks to reduce crowding risks.

When you do visit parks and trails, we also recommend following the latest CDC guidelines, such as wearing masks for everyone except children under two, keeping six feet from others, avoiding crowded parks and avoiding the use of shared equipment such as playgrounds and entrance gates that may spread the virus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html

Current Opening Status, Updated May 22, 2020

  • Milwaukee County Parks - open, most amenities use at your own risk
  • Oak Leaf Trail - open
  • Forked Aster Hiking Trails - open
  • Milwaukee County Golf Courses - open for modified play, tee times available
  • Disc Golf Courses - open
  • Fishing at lagoons - open
  • Dog Parks - open (except Bay View and Warnimont)
  • Playgrounds - open, use at your own risk
  • Public Bathrooms - closed
  • Community Centers - closed
  • Mitchell Park Domes - closed
  • Boerner Botanical Gardens - closed
  • Wehr Nature Center - visitor center closed, trails open
  • McKinley Marina - open for slip renters only
  • Beaches - open
  • Sports facilities - closed
  • Aquatic facilities - closed
  • Parks admin building - closed
  • Beer gardens - closed
  • Special Events - canceled until at least June 30
  • Rentals - canceled until at least June 30
  • Milwaukee Active Streets - open in Humboldt Park, Jackson Park, Estabrook Park and Little Menomonee Parkway
  • Lakefront parks - open

Here's what else we're doing


May 22, 2020 Estabrook Park added to Milwaukee Active Streets

A portion of Estabrook Parkway is joining the Milwaukee Active Streets initiative, which means it's open for biking, dog walking, running and more, and temporarily closed to through traffic. Head to https://buff.ly/2ATgPZH for more details. Parking lots by the beer garden and at the south entrance will still be accessible.

Reopenings

Dog parks are reopening this weekend at Estabrook, Runway, Roverwest, Currie and Granville parks. Spring-loaded gates and entry/exit signage have been added where possible. Bay View and Warnimont dog parks will remain closed for additional maintenance.
Playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment stations, basketball and tennis courts and disc golf courses (with baskets!) are now open with ‘use at your own risk’ guidelines. Shared ‘use at your own risk’ equipment will not be sanitized by staff at this time. Most Parks’ indoor amenities, including restrooms, also remain closed. Root River disc golf remains temporarily closed because of high waters.
Parking restrictions at lakefront parks have been lifted. While inconvenient, these temporary restrictions helped minimize congestion to support flattening the curve.
Pools to Remain Closed This Summer
We have made the really tough decision to keep our deep well pools closed for the season. This was an incredibly difficult choice to make, because we know what our pools mean to the community. The physical distancing recommendations still in place, limits on group gathering sizes, shortage of available lifeguards, and the drastic toll the pandemic has had on the county budget, in addition to Parks’ significantly reduced staffing levels, have all been contributing factors.
We are hopeful that we will be able to open a good number of our wading pools & splash pads this summer as they provide critical relief from the summer heat, and we are looking at options that will offer opportunities that are equitably distributed across the system.

May 10, 2020 - Milwaukee Active Streets

Parkways in Humboldt Park, Jackson Park and Little Menomonee Parkway have opened up for cycling, running and exercise as part of the Milwaukee Active Streets Initiative, get the full details at https://www.milwaukee.gov/activestreets The parkways are temporarily closed to traffic and accessible parking spots have been added too.

May 9, 2020 - Disc Golf Courses Opening

Disc golf courses at Brown Deer, Dretzka, Root River and Estabrook, will open on Saturday, with social distancing adjustments. Shared equipment including baskets and benches won’t be on the courses for now.

April 27, 2020

American Family Insurance issued a press release announcing the cancellation of the July 3 fireworks display. The main viewing area is Veterans Park. The City of Milwaukee have also canceled July 4 fireworks displays, many of which are held in Milwaukee County Parks.

April 24, 2020 - Eight Milwaukee County Golf Courses to Open 

Eight public golf courses will reopen in Milwaukee County, in alignment with the extended Stay at Home order issued by Governor Evers on April 16, which lifts restrictions on golf play.

Parks championship, tournament, and regulation courses will open with provisions in place that support public health including tee-times spaced every 15 minutes, use of golf carts only by persons with disabilities with proper identification (State-issued disabled parking placards or license plates), and raised cups that eliminate the need to retrieve a ball from a hole. Course pro-shops and restaurants will remain closed. Tee time bookings and payments for greens fees will be taken over the phone.

“Spending time outside is important for physical and mental health,” said Milwaukee County Parks Executive Director Guy Smith. “but as Milwaukee County has the highest rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, it’s vital we make adjustments to golf operations to ensure the safety of golfers and our dedicated staff.”

The courses that will reopen are: Brown Deer Park, Dretzka Park, Oakwood Park, Whitnall Park, Currie Park, Grant Park, Greenfield Park, & Lincoln Park. The 18-hole footgolf course at Lincoln Park will also be open for play for those who bring their own soccer balls.

A maximum of two employees will be stationed at each clubhouse with one employee taking payments over the phone, the other focused on course cleanliness and sanitation. Hand sanitizer will be available outside each clubhouse for golfers.

Driving ranges and practice areas will remain closed as will Executive and Par 3 golf courses. Other Parks amenities, including outdoor fitness equipment, playgrounds, dog parks, and disc golf courses will also continue to be closed until further notice.

Milwaukee County Golf Smart Start plan:

  • Golf will be walking only, no motor carts. A limited number of push carts will be available for rental.
  • Pro-shops and restaurants will remain closed, so food & beverage will not be available for purchase.
  • Clubhouse bathrooms will be available (don’t forget to wash your hands often). On-course bathrooms will be closed.
  • Golfers must stay a minimum of six feet from other golfers, unless you're from the same household.
  • Congregating will not be permitted in the parking lot before or after golf.
  • Tee times are required. Walk on players are not permitted.
  • Tee times will be every 15 minutes (rather than every 8 minutes) to prevent crowding at tees.  Please don't arrive more than 15 minutes before your tee time to avoid crowding.
  • No ball washers, rakes or trash cans will be on the course, so please don’t bring carry-in food or drink and take any trash with you to dispose of at home.
  • Cups have been raised, to eliminate the need to remove the ball from the hole, and flags will stay in cups
  • Scorecards and pencils will be available on request from the starter, or you can track your score with an app like 18birdies.
  • Golf lessons will be not available.
  • Rain checks will be not issued at this time.
  • Payment can be made by credit card or gift card. One payment per group is appreciated. Members of the Players Discount Program will still receive loyalty points for play.
  • http://mke.golf/

Golf Course Opening Update: April 17, 2020

We know you’re eager to golf, and we’re looking forward to seeing you back on the greens! We’re hard at work making adjustments to our golf operations that will ensure the safety of both staff and golfers.

As you’ve likely seen, this week Governor Evers announced an extension of the Stay at Home order until May 26. The new order lifts the closure of golf courses, giving us the opportunity to reopen – with social distancing restrictions – sooner rather than later, after the initial Safer at Home order expires on April 24th.

We expect to have some announcements early next week on the timing of golf course openings, together with details on how to book and pay for tee times.

So, while our turf professionals and golf staff work to prepare courses for your arrival, we ask that you help us by staying home and refrain from playing on the courses, which remain closed at this time. Your support now means that you will be out there playing a “hole” lot sooner!

April 16, 2020

The Wisconsin Stay at Home Order has been extended to May 26. The new order includes some changes that will go into effect on April 24.

The Mitchell Park Domes lit up blue to show support for essential front line workers.

April 10, 2020

As part of an Open Streets Initiative, we have closed Grant Park parkway to vehicles in order to open up space for walkers and cyclists and create more space for social distancing. We are currently evaluating other parkways to add to this pilot program.

April 3, 2020

We all love our Milwaukee County Parks, and we need to use recreation and outdoor areas responsibly to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Team and contact sports are not permitted, but activities that comply with social distancing are welcomed. 

As we approach the weekend and nicer weather, please do your part by being safe in the parks and reminding your family and friends to do the same. We also want to encourage you to utilize the parks that you can easily reach on foot or bike, rather than driving.  

For everyone's safety, Milwaukee County Parks facilities remain closed including: indoor recreation facilities, rental facilities, playgrounds and fitness equipment stations, golf courses and disc golf courses, dog parks, and beaches. Additionally, parking will be restricted along the lakefront and at golf courses.

Unfortunately, as this pandemic continues to unfold additional closures may be required.

That said, we’ve developed some helpful guidelines on how to enjoy your county parks safely!

March 31, 2020

To reduce the risks of people using shared surfaces, which the virus may remain on for hours or days, Milwaukee County Parks is locking facilities including tennis courts and basketball whenever possible. 

March 25, 2020

The Wisconsin Stay Safe at Home Order went into effect at 8am on March 25 and will remain in place until April 24. Any additional rentals and special events in County parks prior to April 24 will be cancelled. Parks and trails will remain open for walking and biking, as long as social distancing requirements are followed. No team or contact sports will be permitted in parks. Milwaukee County Parks will continue to operate with minimum staffing levels, this includes operations staff providing essential maintenance, security and safety staff patrolling parks and support staff telecommuting whenever possible.

March 20, 2020

As part of our continued efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 all playgrounds in Milwaukee County Parks have been closed. Signage is currently being posted at Milwaukee County Park playgrounds. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can remain on plastic and metal surfaces for several days. While we recognize these closures are disappointing and inconvenient, they are essential to support the health of our community at this time. Thanks for your understanding.

March 17, 2020

As we're currently operating with a limited team, voice mails at the main parks phone number will not be monitored. Please use our email contact form to reach a staff member. https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Contact

March 16, 2020

A press conference on additional County responses was held at 6pm. It is available to view here: https://www.wisn.com/article/milwaukee-part-of-dine-in-ban-for-10-cities-and-municipalities-in-milwaukee-county/31685914

Milwaukee County Parks will close all golf courses, club houses and Disc Golf effective March 17, 2020. All dog parks will also be closed and locked until further notice.

Parks staff, where able, have switched to telecommuting. Some departments will be operating with a reduced team and may take longer to respond to queries. Staff who need to look after dependents and are unable to work are able to take paid sick leave.

Park rentals, special events and organized sports activities through April 17, 2020 have been cancelled. Reservations are currently being taken for events that take place after May 15, 2020.

While information is continuing to evolve, Parks also recommends avoiding use of playgrounds at this time. Signage will be posted to serve as a reminder.

March 15, 2020

Starting Monday, March 16, the Parks Administration building on Watertown Plank Road will be closed to the public. The majority of parks staff will be telecommuting when possible and will still be available by email or through our contact form at https://county.milwaukee.gov/EN/Parks/Contact

March 14, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution, Milwaukee County today will take immediate preventative steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Effective immediately, the Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee County Parks facilities and Milwaukee County Senior Centers will be closed to the public until further notice. 

The majority of Milwaukee County Parks public venues will close until further notice and public events, rentals, and programs scheduled to be held at these venues have also been canceled. Closed facilities include: Mitchell Park Domes, Noyes Indoor Pool, Pulaski Indoor Pool, King Community Center, Kosciusko Community Center, Milwaukee County Sports Complex, Wehr Nature Center visitor center, Boerner Botanical Gardens Visitor Center, Wilson Recreation Center & Ice Arena, and Wil-O-Way facilities at Grant and Underwood. 

“The health and safety of our community and staff members are our highest priority,” Parks Executive Director Guy Smith said. “We want to remind people that Parks remain a healthy support in this situation. People may practice social distancing and healthy habits while enjoying their parks, and the department will do our best to keep outdoor park facilities accessible to the public during this challenging time.”

Parks, trails, and outdoor amenities including dog parks, disc golf courses and self-pay golf courses will remain open. The Grant Golf Course and pro shop will also remain open. Parks operations staff will continue to maintain parks and facilities as needed and the Park Rangers will continue to patrol parks. Horticulture staff will continue to tend to the plants and animals at the Mitchell Park Domes and Wehr Nature Center.

March 13, 2020

Senior leadership staff at Milwaukee County Parks are meeting throughout the day to determine additional action.

Milwaukee County Sports Complex is currently closed to the public. All events at the sports complex have been cancelled for at least five days.

The Winters Farmers Market and the Spring Equinox event planned for this weekend at the Mitchell Park Domes have been canceled. 

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued a proclamation on Friday, March 13 declaring a local public health emergency due to coronavirus.

March 12, 2020

Governor Tony Evers has declared a public health emergency for the state of Wisconsin. More details of Wisconsin's response is available at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disease/covid-19.htm

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends that all non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people be cancelled or postponed statewide to help protect Wisconsinites from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease.  DHS supports the decisions of any event organizers that elect to cancel or postpone events with less than 250 attendees in order to protect their communities.  Organizers should consider the following:

  • Potential for attendance from older adults, individuals with underlying health care conditions, or other vulnerable groups
  • Potential for attendance from individuals from a wide range of geographic areas across Wisconsin, the United States, or other countries
  • The setting of the event, particularly if it involves sustained interaction between attendees in close physical proximity

Cancelled events 

March 21, 2020. Winter Farmers Market at Mitchell Park Domes 

Mar 2-23 Sap to Syrup! Urban Ecology Center

March 15, 2020. Spring Equinox Celebration, Mitchell Park Domes 

March 28, 2020. Easter Egg-citment, Koscisuzko Community Center

March 28 Humboldt Park Easter Egg Hunt

April 4, South Shore Marathon, various parks

April 4 Cooper Park Neighborhood Association: Easter in the Park 

April 4 Friends of Wedgewood Park: Easter Egg Hunt 

April 4, Bunny in the Park

April 4, Washington Heights Neighborhood Association: WHNA Easter Egg Hunt 

April 4, TETNA: Spring Egg Hunt 

April 6: Marty Schreiber talk at Wehr Nature Center 

April 11, Milwaukee Marathon, various parks

April 11, Friends of LaFollette Park: Easter Egg Hunt

April 11, Mayfair Rotary Club: Easter Egg Hunt 

April 11, Jackson Park Community Association: Easter Egg Hunt 

April 12,  Divine Mercy Parish: Sunrise Mass

May 16-17: Pug Fest, Milwaukee County Sports Complex,


Everyday Precautions
Health Authority officials continue to recommend people in Wisconsin take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of Wisconsin.

You are an important partner in emergency management. Thank you for all you do to keep Milwaukee County safe.


What to do if you are sick

If you have questions about COVID-19, call the UW Health COVID-19 Informational Hotline at  (608) 720-5300

Wisconsin Department of Health Services - 608-266-1865

City of Milwaukee Health Department: https://city.milwaukee.gov/Coronavirus#.XmqGu6hKiUk

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html


Other useful links

Milwaukee Recreation updates: https://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/District/About-MPS/District-News/Covid-19-Updates.htm