TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Walkers on Tumamoc Hill are being urged to follow a mandatory face covering requirement to prevent the popular walking destination from shutting down again.
Tumamoc Hill, which is managed by the University of Arizona, closed to the public on March 18 in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It reopened on May 25, and walkers have enthusiastically returned despite the heat, with 750 to 1,000 people walking the hill every day since early June.
In order to reopen safely, the university instituted a set of protocols on the hill, consistent with those on campus, including mandating face coverings, installing hygiene stations and painting arrows up and down the road to support social distancing. However, many users of Tumamoc Hill are not complying with the safety measures.
Starting July 24, the university will begin a two-week period to determine if Tumamoc Hill can remain open. If compliance with the face covering policy is not met by the end of the two-week period, the university will be forced to again close Tumamoc Hill to the public.
Social distancing can be difficult on Tumamoc Hill, despite visual aids and reminders, and is practically impossible during peak walking hours at sunrise and sunset, said Ben Wilder, director of Tumamoc Hill.
Because the coronavirus is widespread in the community, face coverings are required at all times when walking the hill. Since the hill reopened, approximately 30 to 40% of visitors are following the policy, Wilder said.
Beginning July 24, a whiteboard at the base of the hill will indicate the percentage of visitors wearing face coverings each day, along with the previous day.
Wilder urged all walkers to take responsibility for their own actions and to avoid the temptation to be the "mask police."
“We believe the better approach is to seek to create the conditions where members of our community take this personal responsibility seriously,” he said. “Be mindful of effective but unthreatening approaches you might take in engaging with other members of our community who are not complying with this requirement. Think safety. Wear a mask. Be compassionate. Continue to enjoy Tumamoc Hill.”