Officials coming up with recommendations for opening park facilities and programs in South Carolina

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF) — As many of us are waiting to return to some sort of normal, officials with the South Carolina Recreation & Parks Association are thinking about getting you there. The agency is putting together a committee of parks and recreation directors from across the state to develop a plan for reopening.

“You can’t just turn the green light on and open everything up at the same time,” North Augusta Director of Parks, Recreations, & Tourism Rick Meyer told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.

The plan calls for a four-phased approach. Phase 1 of the plan allows for the opening of outdoor green spaces and trails. You’re asked not to use these locations if you are exhibiting symptoms and follow the CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene before visiting. “Sanitize, clean your hands, try to keep your hands away from your face, and use social distancing,” Meyer said.

There could be a phase called 1.5 where “potentially tennis courts and the disc golf course will fall under that. You may see that open up before athletic fields in early May,” he added.

Phase 2 is scheduled for late May to early June involving reopening playgrounds and local athletic fields for locals residents only. The areas opened in phase 2 are primarily used by youth so North Augusta Parks and Recreation will use employees already on hand to make sure equipment is safe for children to play. “I think we just take the employees that we have and put more emphasis on it because needless to say, you know, inspection, especially in parks, recreation, and tourism right now where we’ve been closed, you know, we’ve got to make up some ground in revenue. So it’s more about taking the employees you got and doing more,” Meyer shared.

The reopening of recreation centers/gyms like Riverview Park Activities Center for local residents is a part of phase 3. That phase should be seen in early June to mid-June. The indoor spaces will need to follow orders on group size, capacity, and proper physical distancing. Summer day camps would also fall under this phase.

The final phase includes sports tourism and tournament play with spectators. That would be mid-June to early July — allowing participants from other states/areas to come to the Palmetto State and be monitored. “People from out of town coming in to use our facilities like travel, baseball tournaments, travel softball tournaments, basketball, volleyball, and even including the event here that we all look forward to every year,” Meyer said.

We’re told since different parts of the state are seeing different levels of COVID-19 activity, the four phases could be tailored to the needs of each local area.

We’ve learned the City of North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department supports this plan and will act accordingly upon the recommendations state and local officials.

As far as when plans will be solidified, Meyer says it depends on state government in Columbia. “It’s a week by week thing, Shawn. We wait for Governor McMaster’s press conference and his executive orders, we expect to hear something new today or Monday from the governor. That’s kinda how we operate because we’ve got to have his permission in order for us to move forward,” he added.

Many people are wondering if the Nike Peach Jam will take place in North Augusta. Shawn has a possible answer.

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