Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial launch of summer and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has released a plan with guidelines on use of state-run state parks, trails, beaches, boat launches and other areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vast majority of state parks remain open and restrictions, such as daily capacity limits, social distancing guidelines for visitors, and use of face coverings remain in place.
Swimming and Beaches:
Last week, Gov. Ned Lamont, along with the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, announced that they would open beaches in their respective states effective Friday, May 22. Gov. Lamont also announced that in Connecticut, state parks with beaches along the shoreline will be open May 22 with capacity limitations and visitors are advised to follow social distancing guidelines.
DEEP is allowing swimming only at shoreline state parks, not inland state park swim areas.
DEEP is making decisions about permitting swimming at state parks based on considerations of potential crowding and the ability to maintain social distancing onshore, at beach locations.
Visitors to shoreline parks must maintain 15-feet of space from other beachgoers -- blanket-to-blanket -- to allow for a 6-foot radius around each person or family and a 3-foot walkway in between groups.
DEEP will close beaches at inland state parks and prohibit swimming at inland state parks.
DEEP urges that, if you visit a shoreline state park with a beach, select locations closest to home and consider visiting early in the morning before crowds gather.
At least six feet of social distancing must be maintained between persons and groups over five remain prohibited. Visitors should recreate with members of their immediate household and not meet up with others. Visitors should bring face coverings and use them whenever they are in proximity to others. Face coverings should not be worn in the water. Visitors should not expect that restroom buildings will be open, but most locations will have portable toilets available.
DEEP will reduce parking capacity and close beaches for the day if social distancing cannot be maintained
Lifeguards will not be on shoreline beaches early in the season and “No Lifeguards on Duty” signs are posted.
Lifeguards will be provided training to reduce the risk of virus transmission and they will not be posted at inland beaches while swimming is prohibited at those beaches.
Staff in DEEP’s Water Monitoring and Assessment Program will be monitoring water quality at the shoreline parks open for swimming. The water quality at the beaches will be tested for the presence of infectious diseases using standard bacteria indicator species. Swimming area closure information will be shared at DEEP’s state parks Twitter feed, @CTStateParks, and will soon also be able to find that information on the DEEP website a-Water-Quality-Report, or on DEEP’s toll free Water Quality Information Phone Line at 1-866-287-2757.
Connecticut municipalities continue to make decisions regarding the beaches and swimming areas they oversee.
Limited swimming capacity at state parks, combined with restrictions made by municipalities around the swimming areas they oversee, mean that residents will have to plan beach and swimming excursions well in advance, and be ready with a back-up plan if their first choice is closed, according to DEEP.
More on Coronavirus in Connecticut and the Region
State Campgrounds, Cabins, and Youth Sites:
State Campgrounds, Cabins, Youth sites, Backcountry and River Camping sites are closed until at least June 11. Additional campground reservations for the 2020 season have been postponed.
Aside from the four shoreline State Parks that feature beaches, there are numerous other parks available for walking, running, biking, hiking, boating and fishing. For a list of the 142 state parks and forests Connecticut has to offer, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Listing-of-State-Parks. For a list of the 117 state boat launches around the state, visit: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Boating/Boat-Launches/Boat-Launches-in-Connecticut.
Information about fishing and hunting is also available on DEEP’s website, www.ct.gov/DEEP.
To avoid closures, DEEP urges visiting a less-traveled park earlier in the day to check DEEP’s state parks Twitter feed, @CTStateParks, or the DEEP Boating Division’s Twitter feed, @CTBoatingInfo, to make sure the park or boat launch you want to visit isn’t already closed, and have a back-up plan ready in case it is when you get there; and also don’t forget to consider municipal parks, a trail maintained by another organization, such as the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, or a land trust (http://www.ctconservation.org/findalandtrust).
See a complete list of DEEP’s social distancing recommendations in the outdoors, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/COVID-19-Updates-CT-State-Parks-and-Forests.
View the plan here. https://portal.ct.gov/deep-parkscovid19.