Governor Lifts Restrictions At State Parks; Some Still Limited To ‘County-Only’ Visitors
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Governor Gary Herbert announced state parks are open to all Utahns with some limitations due to local health order restrictions.
Officials said Utahns who visit the parks should practice responsible recreation by maintaining a six-foot distance from others, staying away from the parks if they’re sick or showing any COVID-19 symptoms and helping keep parks clean.
Visitors should also avoid congregating at trailheads, overlooks or other areas.
Officials with Utah State Parks said county-only visitor restrictions still apply to parks in the following counties, which have restrictions in place due to local health orders:
“Currently, in much of eastern Utah and other areas, outdoor recreation is restricted to the county in which you reside by local public health orders,” officials said. “If you live outside these counties, do not travel to visit state parks located inside them.”
See a full list of which parks are open to all visitors or county residents-only here.
With everything going on these days, Utahn Kelly Ryan just needed to get away for a bit.
Camping has always been her escape.
“Oh my gosh, it’s like a mental recharge,” she said from outside her tent at Great Salt Lake State Park. “This has been a hobby of mine for a long time.”
However, since Ryan lives in Salt Lake City, she could only visit state parks in Salt Lake County.
That’s why she chose Great Salt Lake State Park instead of going somewhere else.
4/20/2020 – Check out this most recent map before hitting the road. State parks located in the green sections of the map indicate they are open to all visitors. Parks located in the gray sections are open only to residents of the same county due to local health orders. pic.twitter.com/o0nWetoJhi
— Utah State Parks (@UtahStateParks) April 20, 2020
That county state parks restriction was part of the governor’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive for the past few weeks.
That directive said state parks could stay open, but only to residents in the county where each park is located.
“It was really hard because I had reservations at other state parks and they just started getting canceled and canceled and canceled,” said Ryan. “So my friend suggested I come here.”
However, Herbert announced Utah’s state parks were open for all Utahns, with some exceptions.
“We’re going to lift those restrictions today and allow people to go to any of our 43 state parks at their leisure,” he said.
That was great news for state park workers.
It was tough asking visitors to turn around if they weren’t from that county where the park was located.
There are still some state parks, mostly on the east side of Utah, that will remain open only to county residents where that park is located because of local health department directives.
“We are certainly still abiding by those local orders,” said Eugene Swalberg, Utah State Parks public information officer.
For those parks opening to everyone, though, social distancing, staying in your group and giving others room to pass on trails will still be required.
“Oh yeah. Absolutely. The buzz word now is responsible recreation,” Swalberg said.
That was just fine for Ryan.
“I can totally social distance,” she said with a laugh.
She also said she’ll never take visiting a state park for granted again.
“I’d like to be able to visit all of our state parks this year,” said Ryan.
Visitors centers will still be closed and state park administrators were still trying to clarify with state leaders what to do about out-of-state visitors. Visitors were also encouraged to prepay for day-use passes to limit contact with park staff.
“It’s a fluid situation, as it has been for weeks,” said Swalberg. “But we’ll get it figured out.”
“The governor’s announcement (Friday) applies to areas managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation only; it does not apply to recreation areas managed by other local, state, or federal agencies,” park officials said.
Updates on the Utah State Parks can be found here.
For more on how Utah is combating the coronavirus, go to coronavirus.utah.gov.
To find a COVID-19 testing location near you, go to coronavirus.utah.gov/testing-locations.
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
- Avoid touching your face
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- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
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- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
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