PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ After hearing reports of too many people congregating at Rhode Island state parks and beaches over the weekend, Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she had no choice but to order them closed until further notice.
Starting Friday, Raimondo said all state parks and beaches — along with their parking areas — will be closed to visitors. She also delayed the opening of state campgrounds until at least May 1.
“It is hard to close our beautiful state parks and beaches, but absolutely necessary,” Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Janet Coit said. “Protecting public health is paramount, and that means adhering to social distancing and restricting access to public places where any groups might gather – such as parks and beaches.”
Coit said environmental police officers will be monitoring all state parks and beaches for compliance. Anyone caught violating the mandate may be cited.
“I ask you to respect the closure and stay away from state parks and beaches,” Coit said. “This closure is temporary, and part of our having to adjust to a ‘new normal’ practically every day.”
For now, Raimondo said all state-managed trails and bike paths, including the Blackstone River Bikeway, the East Bay Bike Path, the Washington Secondary Bike Path and state management areas will remain open, though people are asked to avoid them if they’re crowded.
Here is a list of additional updates from the DEM regarding outdoor recreation:
- The opening of the Great Swamp Shooting Range in West Kingston is delayed until at least May 1.
- The Goddard Park Golf Course is closed until further notice.
- For state parks: all reservations of pavilions, picnic sites, fields and other areas are on hold until further notice.
- Opening Day of the trout-fishing season will not occur on its traditional date, April 11. Coit said the DEM is modifying Opening Day and will announce the new plans once they are finalized.
Coit said the best way to enjoy the great outdoors while practicing social distancing is by staying close to home.
“During the weeks ahead, I ask that people recreate close to home – in their backyards, on their stoop, and during a walk around the block. I encourage and recommend limiting your time outdoors to local outings and backyard adventures,” Coit said.
Coit said the DEM is working closely with the R.I. Department of Health to determine when recreational facilities will be able to open for the season.
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