On the afternoon of Friday March 20, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro gave area residents and small business owners a few updates on the new mandates regarding business closures in New York State. Seemingly on the ‘non-essential’ chopping block were golf courses and salons of nearly every kind, yet there remained one valuable outdoor haven that continued to dodge quarantine-based closures. Despite their on-site facilities being temporarily closed, State Park grounds remain open to the public amid mass closings in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. For families in search of respite from indoor life, the extra responsibilities that come with being tasked with working from home and homeschooling, and the endless stream of social media updates, the great outdoors await and state parks still beckon.
Though the grounds themselves remain open, along with indoor facilities, public programs and events typically held on park grounds have been suspended indefinitely to encourage social distancing. Still, historic and beloved State parks like the Clermont State Historic Site in Germantown, NY, the Olana State Historic Site in Greenport, NY, the Mount Everett State Reservation in Mt. Washington, MA, and Mount Riga State Park in Salisbury, CT are keeping their beautiful trails and vistas open to the public while encouraging folks to keep a healthy distance of at least six feet. Parks across the area are still cautioning visitors to remember that the parks are used by the public as intended, meaning surfaces are still subjected to human contact despite increased efforts toward sanitation from park officials.
A visitor update posted to the Olana State Historic site states the following:
“We take the health and safety of our staff and visitors very seriously and are closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) on an ongoing basis. Our top priority is the well-being of our team, our patrons and our community.
Please note that New York State Parks remain open. Access to Olana’s 250-acre landscape is free. The park is open every day from 8 AM to sunset.
Based on current New York State Department of Health guidance, we have suspended all public programs and tours at this time. We will resume tours as soon as the health situation permits. We will update Olana.org and our social media feed regularly.
We encourage you to explore Frederic Church’s designed landscape with five miles of carriage roads as a way to enjoy the outdoors and help relieve feelings of anxiety and stress.
Please practice social distancing while you walk, keeping six (6) feet of distance between you and others. Please be aware that you are in a public park and follow protocols laid out by NYS Department of Health. We request that staff and visitors stay home if they present symptoms. Please follow CDC/NYSDOH’s guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19.
New York State Parks staff have taken additional precautions to create a safe environment by increasing cleaning protocols for public spaces. We are deeply grateful to our crew who is working to protect Olana and make it safe and available to our community.”
Additionally, State Health Departments have echoed similar preventative measures for residents who venture outdoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19 issuing the following steps:
- Avoid close contact with people, even when outside. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Avoid games and activities that require close contact.
- Avoid frequently touched surfaces and objects. This includes playground equipment like slides and swings.
- Don’t share equipment such as bicycles, helmets, balls or frisbees.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard the tissue in a closed container.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol:
When you return indoors,
- before and after eating,
- after using the restroom,
- after coughing or sneezing, and
- after touching surfaces or items that may be contaminated.
Though the spread of the new virus remains at the forefront of the minds of residents, small businesses, and governments nationwide, here in the Tri-Corner area, social distancing does not mean having to exclude yourself from the natural beauty of our area. Despite the silence that lingers on the normally bustling streets of our towns and villages, some residents are using their free time to commune with the natural wonders of the Hudson Valley, exploring and learning about the historic places that have come to define our corner of the world.
For more information on New York State Parks visit parks.ny.gov,