Group workouts like spinning, dancing, and kickboxing have been banned during the coronavirus pandemic. Running in pairs is frowned upon. And contact sports like baseball, football and basketball are a definite no-no.
That leaves for lonely workouts.
But what about tennis? Surely that’s safe, right? After all, players are more than six-feet away from each other by design.
Philadelphia is still following guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Parks and Recreation when it comes to operating city parks, said Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia’s Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. The guidelines are clear about most organized sports — like basketball, soccer and football — because they mean groups of people who are not from the same household, which is not allowed right now, and they are impossible to do six feet apart.
Lovell says she gets it. The average tennis court is 78 feet long, and when people are actively playing singles games, they are usually at least 27 feet away from each other. But she’d rather play it safe. When people are playing doubles they are closer. There are times during matches when both players are close to the net. And in between sweaty sets, players often come together to talk about plays. And then there are the balls in use that are frequently touched by both players. “We don’t have a playbook for this, so we want to err on the side of safety,” Lovell said.
Right now, Lovell says, she’s not sure and she will know more in the next few weeks. In the meantime, she says the courts will, unfortunately, stay closed because it’s an issue of crowd control. Open courts are an invitation for people to gather in the parks, Lovell said. That’s dangerous to all involved. And the city is not equipped to police that. “I know people are frustrated,” Lovell said. “And I know that we all want to get back to the things we love. But we have to check that at the door to keep everyone safe. This is temporary. And this, too, shall pass.”