After weeks of wondering about a 2020 season due to COV-19 restrictions, some outdoor recreation businesses received some welcomed news from the governor’s office Monday afternoon.
Starting Friday, May 1, Gov. Tom Wolf announced golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide and are required to follow updated life-sustaining business guidance and FAQ issued by the Wolf Administration to include specifics for how these outdoor recreational industries can resume activities while prioritizing public health and safety. Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through Thursday, May 14.
Businesses impacted locally were thrilled to hear the news.
“We’re excited to open our golf course this Friday,” said John Cook, general manager of the Huntingdon Country Club. “It’s in great shape for our members and guests to play and enjoy the great outdoors while maintaining their physical, mental health.”
Cook, who previously told The Daily News the club could offer touchless golf, pointed out the game might look a little different than to which players are accustomed.
“There are restrictions associated with opening that we are awaiting confirmation. These restrictions are designed to ensure the safety of the golfers and our staff,” he said.
Nance Glantz, owner of Raystown Lake/Saxton KOA at Four Seasons, is anxious to welcome guests, but she’ll also have some restrictions to follow.
Her resort became a Kampgrounds of America (KOA) facility at the end of 2019, so she will follow the KOA guidelines.
“I have lots of people above me that will tell me the standards I have to follow,” she said.
Some things she plans to offer include curbside check-in, as well as concierge service if people need grocery items at the campground.
“Before they get here, they will pay in full, and when they check in, there will be someone on a golf cart who will escort them to their site,” said Glantz. “We also have concierge service, so if someone needs a bag of ice, we’ll bring it to them. If they need a grocery item, we will deliver it to them. We don’t want a lot of people in our store right now.”
Also, the campground’s restrooms, playgrounds and game room at will remain closed at this time.
“If we decide to open the bathrooms, we will need the manpower to clean them,” she said. “There are certain things we will have to keep closed until we get a handle on them because we don’t want the disease to spread.”
At Seven Points Marina at Raystown Lake, director of sales and marketing Pam Prosser was also happy to learn of Monday’s news, but said she and her staff remain cautious.
“We are happy to have the news that we can open,” she said. “However, we have to be smart and safe about this so we can protect our crew members, customers and our community.”
In order to do that, Prosser said the marina plans to open at 8 a.m. Friday, May 8.
“We will be open only to current slipholders, which includes our wet slips and our rack storage building,” she said.
Now that they have the go-ahead to open, Prosser said staff is starting to put boats in the water that were stored at the marina for the winter.
“We have extended our season one additional week this year. This is in accordance with phase 1 of our opening and operational plan for the season,” she said.
Prosser said it’s difficult to read the term “non essential visitors” in the government documents, but she understand the need to control the access to the marina during this start up time.
“All of our customers are important to us, but given the gravity of this situation, we have to do the right thing to assist in the mitigation of this virus,” she said. “Right now, we believe it would not be safe to just open the gates for the general public. We need to enforce social distancing and the requirement of wearing masks. We are going to need the full cooperation of our customers and understanding of visitors that we are unable to allow in during this initial phase.”
Prosser said at this time, fish feeding will not be permitted at the marina due to the social distancing requirements.
“We know this is a fun activity for families but just not a good idea,” she said. “There are other public places around the lake that people can still enjoy this activity with more open space.”
Samantha Patt Kozak, co-owner and operator of Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge and Conference Center, an RVC Destination in James, Creek, was also excited to hear Monday’s news from the governor.
“Yes, this is exciting news from the governor’s office,” she told The Daily News. “Lake Raystown Resort is planning a gradual opening of the marina, fuel dock and Marina Café beginning Monday, May 4, with limited hours and access to resort grounds from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.”
Patt Kozak said the resort’s campgrounds, cabins, villas, bungalows, cottages, yurts and lodge will remain closed to overnight guests until Thursday, May 7.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, May 7, the resort front gates will remain open 24 hours per day for the upcoming season.
“The Marina Café will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for takeout orders beginning Monday, May 4, through Wednesday, May 6, and daily from noon to 8 p.m. beginning Thursday, May 7,” said Patt Kozak, encouraging folks to visit www.marinacafeonthelake.com to place their orders.
She also pointed out Best Way Pizza at Lake Raystown Resort will open Saturday, May 8, and the General Store will open for the 2020 season with limited hours Friday, May 7.
Anthony Quarracino Jr., captain of the southcentral region of the state Fish and Boat Commission, said his office has received guidance regarding guided fishing trips as well.
“I know that licensed guides aren’t allowed to have more than two clients on a boat at any given time,” he said. “They will also have to practice social distancing with that as well.”
Additionally, for those who are fishing right now, they’ve issued guidance where people are to keep the length of a fishing rod apart, or six feet apart.
“We’re encouraging, but there’s no active enforcement,” said Quarracino. “But, we’re following the guidance issued to us by the governor’s office, so we’re actively encouraging it.”