Hospitalizations Down, More Restrictions to Go in Place at State-Run Parks, Beaches

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Another 5,729 COVID-19 tests have been reported in Connecticut and an additional 191 positive cases have been reported since yesterday, according to the records the state is keeping.

There were an additional 53 deaths and 71 fewer people are hospitalized with the virus.

Declines in hospitalizations are a key number Gov. Ned Lamont has focused on in his plan to reopen "non-essential" businesses that have been closed for months due to the pandemic.

During a news conference Thursday about the guidelines, Lamont said that the coronavirus infection rate in Connecticut is below 5 percent, around 3 percent.

"That's extraordinary good news," Lamont said.

The test run-rate is pacing around 42,000 per week, he added, which is where the state wanted to be.

The governor held his news conference at Gay City State Park in Hebron on Thursday morning.

State officials gave a glimpse of how different things will look at Connecticut's state-run beaches and parks this summer with restrictions in place to keep people at a distance, like requiring face masks and keeping blankets several feet apart, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While indoor venues have been closed, the state parks and beaches have remained open.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes joined the governor for the news conference and said there has been an increase in visits to the state parks while people have been home because of the COVID crisis.

The rules that have been in place to keep people safe and allow residents to enjoy solitary walks or outings with their families will continue to be in place, along with additional guidelines.

On Wednesday, the state issued guidelines and restrictions for people using Connecticut’s state-run beaches and parks this summer, including wearing masks or face coverings whenever they are in close proximity to others and remaining 15 feet away from others on the beach.

Swimming will allowed at shoreline state parks, but the DEEP is closing beaches at inland state parks and prohibiting swimming at inland state parks.

Dykes said the swimming areas at inland parks are smaller than the shoreline parks, so there is not enough room for social distancing.

She asked people to recreate close to home and stay home if they are not feeling well.

She also asked people to get creative and explore "trails less traveled," to visit parks early and to check ahead to see if the one you are planning to go to is too crowded and have a backup plan.

To help people decide which park or beach to go to, the state has set up a website to check to see if it's open.

If a park capacity reaches capacity, it will be closed for the day.

Dykes warned against people parking outside parks that are closed and walking in. She said an executive order allows fines to be issued for people who violate it.

If you're heading out, you might not be able to stay all day because of accessibility to bathrooms during the pandemic.

Jim Little, of the Connecticut Forest& park Association, also took part in the news conference said the state has an interactive map to help people find places to go and where to park.

CT Trails Day happens at the beginning of June and Little said it will be a do-it-yourself event this year,

The CT Forest & park website says Ct Trail Day is every day this year.

Thursday was the second day that some businesses deemed "non-essential" have been able to open and Lamont said during his briefing that restaurants that were allowed to open for outdoor seating handled things well.

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