July 23, 2020
Tumamoc Hill Faces Another Possible Closure: Face Coverings Are Mandatory
TUCSON, Ariz. — 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.
The University of Arizona requires a face covering while in university facilities, and in its outdoor spaces when physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. 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."
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The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2018 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $687 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 65 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.