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You can still take a walk in the park, or learn a new skill – while practicing social distancing

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's ban on pickup basketball games, play dates and backyard barbecues has left some people trying to adhere to the state's new social-distancing mandates in a quandary.

What can you do if you're not allowed to go work, enjoy a meal at a restaurant or visit your barber?

The governor's office doesn't seem to offer any guidelines for the bored, restless and housebound.

However, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz offered some tips that don't require residents to stare endlessly at the four walls of their living rooms for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

People are still welcome to go to the parks, Poloncarz said at a news conference Friday.

Erie County has about two dozen parks and areas, comprising more than 10,000 acres to explore.

The county executive exhorted residents to take advantage of parks, but to try to keep a distance from other parkgoers.

Poloncarz noted that playgrounds are being closed and swings are being removed.

Tennis courts are open, he said, but reminded people that it's still possible to transfer the coronavirus from one's hands to a tennis ball or racket.

"If you're playing with your family members, that's probably OK, but if you're playing with a friend" you have not seen in weeks, there's a potential danger there, Poloncarz said.

He added that park bathrooms will be open and cleaned once daily.

Buffalo has six Olmsted Parks and many of Erie County's other municipalities operate their own parks.

However, you could just as easily talk a walk around your own neighborhood so long as you avoid walking in groups and remember to stay a distance of about six feet from others. It is convenient and necessary if you have a dog to walk, and a nice respite if you just seek a bit of fresh air.

Bicycling is an option and probably more pleasant with less traffic on the road.

While you're outside, you can get an early jump on a little spring gardening that would mostly entail getting rid of some unsightly spent plants in your flower beds from last year, attending to some early spring weeding and preparing your lawn for the season ahead.

A little spring cleaning might be in order.

Are there some old movies you've never seen but have been promising to watch? Better yet, are there some books you've never read, but always wanted to?

Now is the time.

There is Minecraft and other video games, or a few games of solitaire for those into more old-school pursuits. Learn to paint or learn a craft. Learn a new language using one of those online programs put out by Rosetta Stone or Babbel. Learn Excel.

Take your time and do your taxes.

You're limited only by your imagination – and dedication to keeping a safe distance from others – during the pandemic.

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