Breaking news: Southborough suspends outdoor activities due to mosquito threat (UPDATED)

Southborough’s Board of Health voted today to suspend outdoor activities and close town facilities between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am, effectively immediately. The vote, which comes on the heels of similar decisions in neighboring towns, is a response to the heightened risk of mosquito-borne illness like West Nile and EEE in our area.

The decision applies not only to town athletic fields, but also to playgrounds and other town-owned spaces. Notices will be posted at all outdoor town facilities.

Athletic fields at the schools are normally available for youth sports starting at 4:00 pm, but Recreation Director Doreen Ferguson told the board she has worked with the schools to open the fields earlier so teams can get practice in before peak mosquito times. She said she has also already made arrangements for the youth soccer and football organizations to use school gyms for evening practice instead of outdoor fields.

“The last thing I want to do is to keep our kids from being outside and getting activity,” Board of Health member Nancy Sacco said. But she and member Louis Fazen III agreed the ban on outdoor activities was necessary in what Fazen called “very unusual” mosquito conditions for Southborough.

School Business Director Cheryl Levesque said the outdoor activity restriction will not significantly impact the K-8 schools because there are no scheduled evening outdoor activities. Northborough imposed a similar ban that has led to the rescheduling of Algonquin athletic events like Friday’s football home opener.

The move to close town fields and playgrounds during peak mosquito times was an effort to protect the town’s youth from mosquito-borne illnesses, but Fazen said it’s up to all town residents to protect themselves from bites by wearing bug spray, donning long-sleeved shirts and pants, and taking other measures.

You can read more tips on how to protect yourself in this post.

Update 5:00 pm: Here’s the official announcement from the town.

(Photo posted to Flickr by Gerald Yuvallos)

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