The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced that all Rhode Island state parks, including Rocky Point State Park and Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick, are now open to visitors.
“Getting outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature are great ways to relieve stress and important to public health. DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation recognizes the value of spending time in nature and is committed to ensuring park visitors and staff enjoy safe and memorable experiences at our state parks,” a press release from RI DEM states.
“DEM is delighted to welcome visitors back to our beautiful state parks,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a statement. “Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bicycle, or fish is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with household members, and reduce stress while practicing physical distancing. Now, as we’re dealing with the public health emergency, we’re also asking park visitors to take additional steps to protect themselves, their families, and the people around them so everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors.”
“I know that many Warwick residents have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of our City’s wonderful parks and beaches,” said Mayor Joseph J. Solomon in a release. “This has been a balancing act: I want people to be able to enjoy our outdoor spaces, but I also want to make sure it’s safe to do so. The City of Warwick looks forward to continuing our partnership with DEM as we move toward a gradual reopening of our outdoor spaces. Rhode Island – and Warwick, especially – is the most beautiful place around, and I am looking forward to all of us being able to safely enjoy our parks and beaches.”
On May 9, DEM began reopening state parks in a graduated manner by staggering park openings, reducing the size of parking areas and restricting hours of operation and activities to prevent crowds. We have made changes to park capacity, access points and traffic flow patterns to keep our guests safe and healthy. If necessary, we may need to close some of the larger state parks at 6 PM to ensure parks staff can effectively manage crowds and facilities. The future status of parks and the availability of facilities will be determined by whether everyone is following all the precautions.
Beginning Monday, May 18 the following State Parks will be open daily:
· Beavertail State Park, Jamestown
· Black Regiment Monument, Portsmouth
· Brenton Point State Park, Newport
· Burlingame State Park, Charlestown
· Colt State Park, Bristol
· Cocumcussoc Park, North Kingstown
· Fort Adams State Park, Newport
· Fort Wetherill State Park, Jamestown
· Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick
· Haines Memorial State Park, East Providence
· John H. Chafee Nature Preserve, North Kingstown
· J.L. Curran State Park, Cranston
· Lehigh High Grove, Portsmouth
· Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln
· Meshanticut State Park, Cranston
· Pulaski State Park, Glocester
· Purgatory Chasm, Middletown
· Snake Den State Park, Johnston
· Rocky Point State Park, Warwick
“We encourage people to limit their time to short visits to allow more people to use the park, without crowding. (Also, remember that public restrooms will remain closed. Port-a-johns may be available in some locations.) During the COVID-19 public health emergency, visiting parks should be enjoyed as a solitary experience, with just the members of your immediate household, and not as a group activity. Park visitors must follow social distancing practices and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, and wear a face covering if you are within six feet of another person who is outside your household. If you arrive at a favorite park and find that crowds are forming or the parking lot is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. If parking lots are full, please do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas,” DEM states in the release.
While enjoying outdoor spaces, residents must continue to follow the CDC and RI Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread COVID-19:
· If you’re not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
· Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors.
· For the safety of all visitors, please have a face covering with you and wear it in public areas and if you are within 6 feet of another person who is outside your household. The only exceptions from these rules are for anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering or any children under 2 years old.
· Avoid close contact with others outside your household, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives.
· Bring and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
· Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
DEM reminds visitors that they should maintain distance from others while in places where visitors tend to congregate, such as parking lots, trailheads, and scenic overlooks. Park visitors should avoid picnicking, cookouts, gatherings, or games and activities that require contact, such as basketball, football, or soccer. DEM also asks that visitors bring a suitable trash bag and leave no trash behind in order to protect park workers and avoid litter.
DEM says that public restrooms in parks will remain closed. Porta johns may be available in some locations. Visitors are encouraged to carry hand sanitizer and plan a short, local visit that’s close to home.
Boat launch sites are open where conditions allow. All State Park playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields are closed to ensure public safety and stop the spread of COVID-19. The Goddard Memorial Golf Course remains closed. All public programming and events have been canceled until further notice.
Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis DEM has closed most indoor spaces including visitor centers, nature centers, and historic houses.
State campgrounds, including all campsites, cabins and pavilions/shelters are closed and will not open earlier than June 15th. All visitors with reservations through June 14 will be issued a full refund. DEM has suspended all new camping reservations in 2020 temporarily.
Rhode Island state beaches and swimming areas at state parks remain closed to swimming until further notice. The next phase of the reopening plan will include the saltwater beaches, which will begin opening gradually later this month with new restrictions in place.
Beginning Monday, May 25 the following State Beaches will be open daily:
· East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingstown
· Scarborough State Beach, Narragansett
The parking lots at East Matunuck and Scarborough North will be open beginning on Memorial Day. Parking will be free; however, the number of parking spots will be reduced, and parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity. DEM will have staff present to welcome and handle visitors, but no lifeguards. Concessions, along with beach pavilions and their restrooms and showers, will be closed. Portajohns will be available in the parking lots. All patrons must practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, including between groups on the beach. Masks should be worn in the public/high use areas.
DEM is aiming to open all state beaches in early June. Lifeguards will be on duty and concessions, beach pavilions and restrooms will be open, although portajohns may be needed at some locations. Parking charges will be in effect and the number of parking spots will be reduced at some locations. All patrons will be required to practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between themselves and others, including between groups on the beach. Masks should be worn in the public/high use areas.
DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
For outdoor recreation updates, visit http://riparks.com/covid19