Camping during COVID-19

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COLLEY TOWNSHIP, SULLIVAN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Coronavirus concerns are impacting many Memorial Day weekend activities.

Many local parades and civic gatherings had to be canceled. But one popular event this holiday weekend is still happening at some state parks – camping.

The numbers aren’t typically what you’d expect at Ricketts Glen State Park for a Memorial Day weekend, but blame that on the weather and not the pandemic. Still, COVID-19 concerns are changing the way the park is being used this holiday weekend.

Bonding with family and nature is what brought several hundred people to Ricketts Glen State Park for the unofficial kick off to summer and the camping season. It allows families to forget about their troubles but this Memorial Day weekend there’s one thing they just can’t seem to shake – pandemic precautions.

“Yeah, we have masks. We’ve got the Lysol wipes, right. We’ve got the hand sanitizer. We’ve got all those kinds of things,” Brendan O’Brien, a camper from Bethlehem told Eyewitness News.

Camping at Ricketts Glen is a family tradition for the O’Brien family and one they are grateful to continue despite the coronavirus crisis.

“There was a concern that it would be open or not open. I mean, back at home they’ve got yellow caution tape around playgrounds and things so it was like, ahh do we have to cancel it for the first time in how many years,” O’Brien said.

Cancel? No, but caution? Yes.

“You wouldn’t want to go touching things that a lot of people are touching so playgrounds typically are something right now you wouldn’t want to do,” Maureen Brooks, from the USDA Forest Service said.

While there’s nothing preventing fishing, boating and camping, some things like the beach experience have changed.

“You can be on the sand but we still don’t have the swimming area open yet and that will be sometime in June. And then as far as the rest of it, the overnight facilities as far as the cabins and cottages, they’re still closed,” Ricketts Glen State Park Park Ranger Mickey Maneval said.

The goal at Ricketts Glen is to make this spacious, scenic site a safe haven with an emphasis on safe during this pandemic.

“We still would like people to exercise as much as possible as far as distancing and wearing a mask and such,” Maneval explained.

Exactly when certain restrictions will be lifted at Ricketts Glen State Park is a fluid situation. Click here for more information about the park.  

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