HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Gov. Tom Wolf announced that he is lifting some restrictions on businesses related to certain outdoor activities. This is in an attempt to ensure that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor recreation as a way to maintain positive physical and mental health,
Starting on Friday, May 1, golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips, and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide and are required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance issued by the Wolf Administration. Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through Thursday, May 14.
According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half (45 percent) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over COVID-19 with the burden likely to continue even as the pandemic’s threat diminishes.
“Pennsylvanians have remained resilient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, and as we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times. As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Wolf said. “As we start to take measured, limited steps to reopen our commonwealth, reopening these industries will help to rebuild our economy and strengthen our mental health.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities. These guidelines must be followed statewide by businesses and when engaging in outdoor activity while the state disaster declaration remains in effect. The guidelines will ensure the safety of individuals and families engaging in outdoor activities and adherence will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Stay close to home: Pennsylvanians are encouraged to enjoy permitted outdoor recreational activities within their community and avoid crowding popular destinations.
- Practice social distancing: Maintain the recommended minimum 6 feet apart from fellow recreationists. Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to wear a mask or protective garment that covers the nose and mouth any time they go outside. If a parking lot at a park is full or there are too many people on the same trail, find an alternate place to recreate. Cross the street to avoid running directly past another runner or wait longer at a golf hole for a fellow golfer to move forward.
- Minimize risk to others: Individuals should only go out if they feel healthy and have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.
- Have a plan: Create a safety plan before heading outdoors. Explain to children the need to keep their distance from others, even if they happen to see a friend while outside. Discuss with partners, social distancing while on the golf course. Think through how to avoid other runners when waiting to safely cross a street at the same time.
“Practicing social distancing takes a little planning and patience but it is necessary if we want to continue to flatten the curve while ensuring that Pennsylvanians have opportunities to de-stress and get exercise,” Wolf said. “Finding the balance between enjoying the outdoors and staying safe is only possible when all Pennsylvanians are abiding by the same precautions. It’s critical that all Pennsylvanians adhere to the safety guidelines to allow for these outdoor activities to remain available to the public.”