COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – While many city parks in Georgia are closed, state parks are still open during this coronavirus pandemic. Governor Kemp has ordered the Department of Natural Resources to enforce a new norm, social distancing.
“When you’re out in nature it’s just a great way to get away from everything,” said Justin Bettross. He’s the assistant manager at Mistletoe State Park.
As spring moves into summer, it may be tougher to stay indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic for many people. This past weekend the campground at Mistletoe State Park was completely full.
Bettross explained, “It’s been busy and the hiking trails have stayed busy. You know we’re taking precautions just to make sure people are keeping their social distance.”
Governor Brian Kemp announced on March 29 the law enforcement division of DNR will start enforcing social distancing at all lakes and parks. Officials are requesting that people stay at least six feet away from others and do not gather in groups of 10 more or on land or boat. On water, boats cannot be tied together in large groups.
“They (rangers) have been patrolling the parks so they were out here Saturday and Sunday on their boat. They also came with their trucks ensuring the beach people were spreading out,” said Bettross.
Anyone who doesn’t comply with the rules can be given a citation or be arrested. If a ranger asks for you and your group to disperse, comply so your day in the outdoors will be better.
Bettross added, “Politely educate them on how the virus can be contracted and just encourage them to keep their distance amongst themselves. We have different facilities like our beach houses and picnic shelters which can accommodate large groups so we contacted everyone and ensured that we’re going to have 10 or less. And forced them to reschedule or we refund their money. But as far in the days, near the beach area, we have been patrolling making sure they’re keeping their distance.”