Virginia State Parks plans gradual reopening of park amenities, encourages visitors to ‘know before they go’

By: Contributed Report | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: May 18, 2020 | 2:30 p.m.

RICHMOND — Virginia State Parks plans a gradual reopening of some facilities as the commonwealth slowly eases public health restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Statewide and park-specific operational plans have been developed to comply with group size limitations and social distancing requirements. Protocols are in place to look after the safety of all guests and staff.

Anyone planning to visit Virginia State Parks for the remainder of spring and through summer should anticipate changes to normal park operations. Some facilities remain closed, and other amenities will not be available as outlined below.

Park guests are encouraged to recreate at parks close to home. Strict social distancing requirements will remain in place. Group sizes are limited to 10 people. Guests must keep at least 6 feet apart from other guests. Anyone who is sick or has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home.

Guests should check www.virginiastateparks.gov for the latest information about individual parks before they leave home. State parks in Northern Virginia could be impacted differently because of delayed reopening rules.

“I encourage everyone to ‘know before they go,’” Virginia State Parks Director Melissa Baker said. “Check the webpage for the park you plan to visit for alerts and updates. Recently, many state parks have reached visitor capacity and had to close early for the day. It’s always good to have an alternate plan.”

“We’re honored that people are choosing Virginia State Parks for the outdoor experiences they need now,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde E. Cristman. “Access to green space and fresh air is important for physical and mental health. Virginia State Parks staff is working diligently to ensure safe access for everyone.”

Following is a list of state park amenities and status as of May 14. Updates will be posted at www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/covid-19-update.

Open
Trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use
Boat ramps
Picnic tables and grills (open for groups fewer than 10)

Opening for Memorial Day weekend
Restrooms
Campgrounds (except at Twin Lakes State Park, where the septic system is being repaired)
Camping cabins and yurts
Boat and bike rentals (will vary by park)
Chairlift at Natural Tunnel State Park (limited schedule)

Closed until further notice
Picnic shelters
Playgrounds
Cabins and lodges
Swimming beaches
Visitor centers
Meeting facilities
Ranger-led programs (self-guided programs are available)
Shuttle services (includes the shuttle at Natural Bridge State Park)

Closed through summer 2020
Swimming pools (includes the Splash Spray Ground at Occoneechee State Park)
Horse livery at New River Trail State Park

Virginia’s 38 award-winning state parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Copyright 2020 Womack Publishing

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