For those of you turning to nature to get away from it all during this wild time, you may need to start taking some extra precautions.
On Nov. 15, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks announced that, following Governor DeWine’s recent reissue of statewide mask and social distancing orders, all visitors are now required to wear a mask that covers their nose, mouth, and chin while inside a park. Exceptions can be made for anyone who is medically or developmentally unable to wear a mask, or for children under 10 years old.
Signage has already been placed throughout the Metro Parks system, notifying visitors of these new regulations.
“This is just making sure the visitors are safe and everyone can stay safe and can continue to keep our parks open,” said Metro Parks Public Information Manager Peg Hanley. “We carefully thought this out with everyone; this is what we need to do.”
Since the onset of the pandemic in March, Metro Park attendance has soared. According to Hanley, the total number of parks visitors in 2019 was approximately 9 million, and with more than a month remaining this year, Metro Parks have already seen 12 million visitors. Since this Spring, per month park attendance numbers have all been over 30% greater than what they were in 2019. October saw a slight dip in this trend, but attendance was still 29% higher than it was in October 2019.
According to Hanley, the initial reception of the new rules has been mixed. She noted that parks officials don’t see this as a permanent fixture, however.
“Obviously this is something that we won’t do forever. We’ll be monitoring the situation,” she said.
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