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Golf courses, state beaches and parks reopen with restrictions

Posted at 3:09 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 17:09:34-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md (WMAR) — After over a month in quarantine with 3 and 5-year-old boys Declan and Parker, Jake and Karson Lande were eager to to get out of the house. So Thursday morning, they made their way to the newly reopened Sandy Point State Park.

"It's nice to be out of the house together," said mom Karson.

For the Rucks, Thursday meant a return to normalcy, getting back out on their boat for the first time this year.

"I’ve been biting at the bit... very happy," said John Ruck.

On any given warm day, Sandy Point State Park is packed with people. While Thursday wasn’t that busy, lots of families were out enjoying the weather, the beach and the playground while keeping a safe distance from others.

As of this morning, all state parks, beaches and playgrounds are reopened for jogging, swimming, fishing and boating.

"It didn’t really make any sense to not allow us on boats before. We’re out there by ourselves so it's nice that common sense is finally prevailing and we are allowed to go out," said boater Peter Brown-Whale.

Governor Larry Hogan said these low risk activities are safe now, before the stay at home order is lifted, as long as people keep a safe distance from others and limit crowds to less than 10 people.

"We’re so far away from anybody else, there’s no one around," said Jake Lande.

"Our plan was if it was packed to go back home, but there's not that many people out so it's good," said Karson.

Hogan also allowed golf courses to reopen. Pine Ridge in Lutherville was ready to go this morning but the experience is a little different now. They removed ball washers, water coolers, put the golf hole cups in upside down and are limiting carts to one person to minimize contact and allow for distancing.

"When you have four golfers on a hole, you can be yards apart from each other the whole time you play and with walking, it makes it even easier to do it," said interim Executive Director Tom Pierce.

Pierce sees the re-openings as steps in the right direction, hoping that soon business will return to a new normal.

"We see it as hopefully signs of hope that other things will soon open, that the state will reopen, that the rest of the country will reopen. Hopefully this is the beginning," said Pierce.

The decision to reopen county parks is up to the local governments. Several counties have made the decision not to open certain beaches and dog parks so before you head out, check to make sure its open.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources issued these guidelines for reopening.

BEACHES

Effective Thursday, May 7, at 7 a.m., DNR-owned beaches will be opened and outdoor exercise such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, and fishing will be permitted, however:

  • Guidance on social distancing must be followed.
  • The prohibition on social gatherings must be strictly followed.
  • Chairs, blankets, and picnics will be prohibited.

BOATING

Effective Thursday, May 7, at 7 a.m., recreational boating activities, including motorized and non-motorized vessels and personal watercraft, are permitted, however:

  • Boaters must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
  • No more than 10 people can be on a boat at one time, including captain and crew.
  • Boats must be distanced from each other by at least 10 feet and are prohibited from rafting up, beaching, or having rendezvous events.
  • Boats are prohibited from docking at restaurants or bars.
  • Vessel and boat races remain prohibited.
  • Marinas can reopen to recreational boaters, but must adhere to Maryland Departments of Commerce and Health guidelines.
  • Pump-out stations and boats may resume operations under the Departments of Commerce and Health guidelines.
  • Local jurisdictions may choose to open public boat ramps, but must ensure social distancing guidelines.
  • All normal boating rules and regulations are in effect and must be followed.

CAMPING

Effective Thursday, May 7, at 7 a.m., DNR will begin accepting reservations for overnight tent and RV camping in state forests, parks, and other campgrounds, however:

  • Campers must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
  • Guidance on social distancing must be followed.
  • No parties or reservations for more than 10 people will be granted for any one site.
  • Reservations for cabin rentals will not be accepted at this time, however DNR will begin to consider protocols for accepting reservations again in the near future.
  • Reopening will likely proceed on a gradual or regional basis based on guidance from the Maryland Department of Health.

FISHING

Effective Thursday, May 7, at 7 a.m, recreational fishing activities, including catch-and-release, are allowed, however:

  • When fishing from a boat, one must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
  • No more than 10 people may be on a boat at one time, including captain and crew.
  • When fishing from onshore or at a pier, social distancing guidelines must be followed.
  • DNR fishing piers will reopen immediately.
  • Fishing tournaments remain prohibited at this time.
  • All normal rules and regulations regarding fishing are in effect and must be followed, including creel limits, gear restrictions, and seasons.

HORSEBACK RIDING

Effective immediately, horseback riding activities, including riding on state lands, is allowed, however:

  • Equestrians must be riding with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
  • No more than 10 people may be included in a given party.
  • Social distancing guidelines must be followed.
  • No organized rides, gatherings, or races will be authorized.

HUNTING/TRAPPING

Effective immediately, all hunting activities are allowed on private and public lands under following conditions:

  • Hunters on public lands must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
  • No more than 10 people may be included in a given party.
  • All normal rules and regulations regarding hunting are in effect and must be followed, including bag limits, firearm restrictions, and seasons.

OFF-ROAD VEHICLES

Effective immediately, off-road vehicles can be ridden on DNR-owned lands where they are allowed, however:

  • Drivers/riders must be riding with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
  • No more than 10 people may be included in a given party.
  • Gatherings and organized events remain prohibited.

POOLS

All DNR-owned swimming pools remain closed at this time.

SHOOTING RANGES

Effective immediately, DNR will reopen shooting ranges on state land, however:

  • Groups of no more than 10 will be allowed on the range at any time.
  • Social distancing guidelines must be followed.