MORRISTOWN, AZ — Maricopa County is placing restrictions on park usage in hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus in Arizona.
According to a press release from Maricopa County, the new restrictions include:
Mountain parks are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the Hassayampa River Preserve is now open Thursday through Sunday.
Facility closures: The nature centers, group picnic areas and park playgrounds are closed. Restrooms in closed areas remain locked. The northern entrance/area at Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Waterfall Trail at White Tank Mountain Regional Park and Goldmine Trailhead at San Tan Mountain Regional Park are also closed.
Camping: Primitive, shoreline or boat camping at Lake Pleasant Regional Park is prohibited. Reserved campsites are still available but residents are strongly encouraged to secure a reservation before heading to a park. It is anticipated that campgrounds will be full this weekend.
Limited day-use capacity: Once a park has reached limited capacity, the entrance into the park will be restricted to a one-out, one-in practice or close completely and reopen when capacity is at a safe number again. Visitors should expect delays and long lines.
“We come out here to get away but it looks like everybody has the same idea," says William Garcia, one of many spending the weekend on the water at Lake Pleasant.
Garcia says the restrictions are far from a burden, “It gives everybody the chance to get their social distancing in right now and I think 8 o’clock is a sufficient time to get back in at your house.”
Other lake visitors agree. Kris Nielsen is a frequent lake goer. He says, “The flow kind of seems the same. Same amount of people out here.”
Across the shore, Sami Kiel, who doesn’t visit Lake Pleasant often says, “There's definitely more people than I anticipated there would be," adding, “We’ve definitely been keeping our distance, staying home as much as possible and, if not, doing stuff like this where we can get out, get the kids out and stay apart.”
Allowing Arizonans safe opportunities to get outside is Maricopa County's ultimate goal. In a press release Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4 says, “Exercise and fresh air play an important role in keeping us healthy and everyone is anxious to get outside."
However, Dr. Sunenshine and experts at Public Health have reminded all of us that we have to be responsible about the threat of spread outdoors as well.
"We urge people to do their research, be responsible when seeking outdoor areas and have a backup plan in case the location they’ve selected is congested. Please don’t put yourself or others at risk.”