How Virginia State Park officials are enforcing social distancing guidelines

Local News

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Although Governor Ralph Northam’s stay at home order is in effect, Virginians can still get out and exercise. And at state parks, officials are having to make sure people follow social distancing guidelines.

People rolling up to Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield are now encountering a different kind of welcome. A fishing net is extended to collect parking fees and share brochures—one of the multiple measures in place to maintain social distancing according to Melissa Baker, State Parks Director. 

“For now if we’re able to maintain those 6 feet distances, and groups under 10 we should be able to function as you see is function today,” Baker said.

Governor Ralph Northam’s stay at home order remains, as does the offer to enjoy the fresh air. Erik Keirstead and his family continue to take up that offer, and from what he’s seen, people have not been clustered.

“You will see groups of three to four, but they’re usually family or close friends,” Keirstead said.

In order to lower the risk of people possibly spreading COVID—19, Pocahontas State Park Manager Nate Clark says parking capacity is being reduced.

“Some of our more popular parking lots, we’ve actually got folks staffed there all day long just to, again, deliver that message and communicate with guests as they’re here to not overcrowd the lots,” Clark says.

Not to forget—campgrounds are also closed, and it’s uncertain how much revenue state parks will lose as a result.

As for people following orders to break up groups, parks personnel say people have been generally compliant. 

Governor Northam’s orders include a possible misdemeanor charge for anyone who consistently violates social distancing guidelines. 

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