Vermont State Parks COVID-19 Updates
A Plan for Operating Vermont State Parks in 2020
ALL PARKS OPEN JUNE 26
It is clear that Vermonters’ interest in and appreciation for outdoor recreation opportunities in recent weeks has been unprecedented. And an important part of summer in Vermont for many is time spent in Vermont’s state parks. And although the traditional schedule of scheduled openings has been somewhat delayed this year, we are currently in the throes of readying our parks for expanded summer use – including making necessary health and hygiene improvements to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus.
In order for state parks to welcome people and staff safely into areas and facilities during the summer season of 2020, certain assumptions about the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic must be made. Granted, no one can predict the Vermont-specific status of the coronavirus in the months of June, July, August and September with any degree of certainty, but defining a set of assumptions regarding is necessary so that prospective visitors can be notified, protocols can be created, training can be prepared, and financial analysis can be conducted. The plan outlined below relies on the following assumptions:
· The health metrics established by the Vermont Department of Health around the number of new cases and positive COVID-19 tests remain below the established thresholds.
· Governor Scott’s Be Smart/Stay Safe order will remain in place, and the fourteen-day quarantine requirement for out of state visitors will remain in place.
· Social distancing of at least 6 feet whenever possible, wearing masks when in public, and strict personal hygiene protocols will still be in place. Also remaining will be the need to be vigilant in disinfecting common public “touch points.”
State park services and operations
To be able to operate state parks in a manner that intentionally seeks to minimize the potential for spread of COVID-19, things at Vermont’s state parks will look a little different this year. Focus will be on maintaining physical distance between unrelated park visitors, and between staff and visitors, and to manage, reduce or eliminate common touch points. It is critical that park visitors become partners in this endeavor by also committing to minimizing the risk to each other and our staff by strict adherence to behavior guidelines. If either partner fails to contribute adequately to this outcome, we may have no alternative but to close the facilities to public use.
Steps all visitors will be asked to take include:
· Postponing a visit and not entering the park if you are or have recently been ill, tested positive or been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
· Maintaining at least 6 feet physical distance between from anyone you did not travel to the park with.
· Wearing a cloth mask whenever you might encounter other visitors or staff, or generally anytime you are not swimming, exercising or at your campsite.
· Bringing a supply of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, and making good use of them throughout your visit.
· While state park will continue to provide innumerable opportunities for swimming, picnicking, fishing, hiking and camping – any services or transactions that result in touch points and/or staff personal interaction but are not absolutely necessary will be eliminated for this operating season. This includes services such as loaning of play equipment, camping and fishing gear, and sales of merchandise and ice (where there are other local options), boat and bicycle rentals, and concession stands. All playground apparatus will be closed. Promotional programs that rely on paper coupons will be reduced or eliminated. Distribution of paper maps, guides and interpretive information will be minimized. Cash will only be accepted if there is no alternative.
· Park capacity for day use activity will be managed to ensure room for sufficient physical space is available for social distancing. This will be done on a park-by-park basis, generally by reducing the number of parking spots available. For example, the intensively used day use areas may require restricting the number of visitors at a point in time but lesser used areas may not.
· Bathrooms will have soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers installed. Bathrooms will be cleaned and disinfected once per day. High touch points will be disinfected regularly throughout the day according to protocols consistent with CDC guidelines. We will establish an acceptable number of people to be in the bathroom at one time to allow enough space in the building. Signs will be posted indicating the maximum occupancy and ask the visiting public to adhere to the limitation. Doors will be propped open where feasible, trash receptacle covers will be removed, and other unnecessary touch point eliminated wherever possible.
· Picnic grill handles and water spigot handles will be disinfected once per day. Visitors will be encouraged to bring water bottles as water fountains will be disconnected.
· Picnic tables, moveable benches, and chairs will be removed from day use areas except those needed to provide for people with physical disabilities. Visitors will be encouraged to bring picnic blankets or folding chairs.
· Group gatherings and use of picnic shelters will be allowed only if consistent with the restrictions in place at the time. As of May 19, gatherings need to be limited to 10 or fewer.
· The swimming pool at Button Bay State Park will not be operated.
· State Park campgrounds will be limited to tent, RV and lean-to camping. Camping in cabins and cottages will not be available.
· Out-of-state camping will be limited to those camping parties that have self-quarantined according to CDC and VDH guidelines in Vermont prior to entering the park.
· Face-to-face front line interpretive programming will be suspended for the season.
· Group camping will be allowed only if consistent with the restrictions in place at the time. As of May 29, gatherings need to be limited to 25 or fewer.
· Tables, and lean-to handrails and other obvious touch points will be cleaned, and grill handles disinfected between visitors and water spigots will be disinfected once per day. Campers will be strongly advised to assume responsibility for protecting themselves from transmission via touch points, including packing and making regular use of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.
· Bathrooms will have soap and paper towel dispensers installed. Bathrooms and showers will be cleaned and disinfected consistent with CDC guidelines at least twice per day. Signs will be posted to indicate the occupancy capacity of each building to allow appropriate distancing and visitors will be asked to self-enforce the limitation. Doors will be propped open; trash receptacle covers will be removed and other unnecessary touch points limited wherever possible.
· Contact station operations (at campgrounds and day use areas) will be guided by protocols that assure safety of staff and the public. In addition to regular cleaning and disinfecting, the number of staff permitted in the building will be limited so as to allow for appropriate distancing. The public will be asked to maintain distance except when necessary for transactions. A protective shield will be installed where possible. Visitors will be asked to limit trips to the office by combining transactions as much as possible. Appropriate PPE will be worn at all times by staff and hand sanitizing will be required between transactions. Sale of ice will be limited to only those parks without local alternatives. Sale of firewood will continue at all campgrounds.
For more details on outdoor recreation and other park updates, please continue reading below.
We will be cancelling all reservations and converting refunds to gift certificates that you can use for any future camping reservations or other park-related purchases. If possible, we encourage you to accept your refund as a gift certificate because we would like to see you come back soon! That said, if you need a check or credit card refund, please call our reservation call center at 1-888-409-7579 Monday – Friday 9 AM – 4 PM.
Recreate locally: Try to find close-to-home recreation that doesn’t require driving far. If you do need to drive, don’t carpool with non-household members.
Don't walk on muddy trails: some trails may be closed as is common this time of year. Mud season closures will be updated regularly on Trailfinder.info. For general guidance, see our mud season hiking guide.
Access State Lands: Currently, state lands (State Parks, Forests and Wildlife Management Areas) remain open and accessible to the public for outdoor recreation, although most facilities like restrooms are currently closed and not being sanitized. Some roads and trails are gated this time of year and closed to all but foot traffic. The Long Trail System on state lands is currently closed. Visit Green Mountain Club for more information and updates. Please check Trailfinder.info often for updates.
Minimize risk to others: Go out only if you’re feeling healthy, have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and/or have not recently traveled from a location with a CDC-issued travel advisory.
Engage in low-risk activities: Now is not the time to try something extreme and end up in the hospital, taxing an already overburdened health care system.
Don’t crowd: Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting, including the outdoors. This includes finding an alternative place to recreate if the area you choose is already crowded.
Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.
Please leash your dog! They are members of your household and need to keep their social distance as well (most standard leashes are 6 feet in length).
- Recreate only if you feel well & have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Practice social distancing
- Avoid contact with common shared surfaces such as playgrounds & picnic tables as surfaces are not being cleaned or sanitized.
- Go out only if you’re feeling healthy.
- Don’t carpool with non-household members.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting, including the outdoors.
- Engage in low-risk activities; now is not the time to try something extreme and end up in the hospital, taxing an already taxed health care system.
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.
- Please leash your dog! They are members of your household and need to keep their social distance as well (and most standard leashes are 6 feet in length).