The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced the reopening of eight inland swim areas and recreation areas closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're pleased to be providing a reopening of swimming at many of our inland state parks beginning this weekend," said Katie Dykes, commissioner of DEEP.
The inland state parks reopening this weekend for swimming are:
- Stratton Brook State Park - Simsbury
- Wharton Brook State Park - Wallingford
- Day Pond State Park - Colchester
- Gay City State Park - Hebron
- Chatfield Hollow State Park - Killingworth
- Black Rock State Park - Watertown
- Hopeville Pond State Park - Griswold
- Lake Waramaug State Park - Kent
In addition, Dykes said Seaside State Park in Waterford will be reopening.
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The locations will be open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day.
Lifeguards will not present at the inland state parks when they reopen, Dykes said. She asked parents to be mindful of this and to stay close to their children.
DEEP will be monitoring visitor levels at the parks to make sure the capacity levels are compatible with maintaining social distancing and encourages people to get to the parks and beaches early since they will close for the day once they reach capacity, according to Dykes.
Parkgoers are being asked to wear masks at the parks unless you are swimming or hiking at a great distance from other people, Dykes said.
"These masks are one of the most effective tools we have to reduce community spread of this virus," Dykes said.
She said people should wear masks going to the restrooms or concession stands and anytime you cannot socially distance from others, even outdoors.
Dykes said DEEP has been working on a reopening plan for inland swimming areas since late May.
“It is an encouraging step that we are able to provide more amenities and services at this time as a result of the state’s progress in reducing infection rates,” Dykes said in a written statement. “Our continued progress toward re-opening at a safe, responsible pace relies on the public’s adherence to proven practices of wearing masks and social distancing for the well-being of everyone. Cooperation in this area will ensure we can continue to provide, and gradually increase, accessibility to our valuable outdoor recreation areas.”
"It's important for us to provide places for people to stay cool," Dykes said.
Swimming at shoreline state parks reopened in time for Memorial Day weekend.
DEEP's plans will be revealed ahead of a weekend in which the heat index will be around 100 degrees.
Dykes said her team will be monitoring how well people at the parks comply with social distancing requirements and how large the crowds are when they are opening.
Part of the reason DEEP chose these particular locations to open is because the agency believes the capacity of the parking lots will allow for a reasonable crowd site at the park's beaches, said Mike Lambert, DEEP Bureau Chief.
DEEP also announced Seaside State Park will be reopening this weekend.
The team is forecasting a heat wave with several days above 90 degrees from Saturday through Tuesday.
The combination of heat and humidity will produce a heat index at or near 100 degrees on Sunday Monday.
As of Friday, just two states -- New Jersey and Vermont -- are on track to contain coronavirus, according to CovidActNow, a group cited by governors across the country that uses real-time metrics to assess risk. New York and Connecticut have fallen out of that category and controlling disease growth. Virtually the entire southern part of the country is in an active outbreak state.