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With earbuds in, a man sits at a bench inside BREC's Milford Wampold Memorial Park as he works diligently in the fresh air, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the parish, East Baton Rouge’s Park and Recreation Commission will require that all staff and visitors either wear a mask or show proof of vaccination while visiting their indoor facilities.

BREC announced Tuesday morning that, effective immediately, all staff and visitors who spend more than 15 minutes inside of any indoor facility must follow the new regulations. Masks or proof of vaccination will not be required for outdoor activities.

“It is part of BREC’s core mission to do everything we can to encourage residents to live a healthy lifestyle. That includes utilizing our park system for exercise as well as encouraging our staff to participate in a wellness program,” BREC Superintendent Corey K. Wilson said in a prepared statement.

“This is no different as we work to prevent another widespread outbreak of the COVID-19 virus and to protect both our team members and park visitors.”

The move will mostly impact the administrative building at Womack Park on Florida Boulevard. Summer camps already require unvaccinated staff members to wear masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible. 

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The agency is among the first in the state to require proof of vaccination or a mask as COVID-19 cases surge across Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Health said it does not compile information on municipal COVID restrictions, but Louisiana Municipal Association Executive Director John Gallagher said he is unaware of any other government agency imposing such a requirement at this point.

BREC will also partner with the Louisiana Department of Health, the Mayor-President’s Office and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to provide incentives for people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. This past weekend anyone who received the shot was given free entry to Liberty Lagoon Water Park, the commission announced. 

“After suffering through a year of facilities closures, hospitalized employees, the lost friends and family members, including our beloved Commissioner Davis Rhorer, widespread forced isolation, online schooling and serious financial repercussions to the local economy, I want to make certain that BREC is doing everything it can to prevent a return to those conditions for the community we serve,” said Wilson.

Staff reporter Paul Cobler contributed to this report.