MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Communities across the lakeshore are monitoring crowds at parks and beaches to avoid having to shut them down.
On Sunday, Grand Haven and the Department of Natural Resources closed the state park parking lot because of large crowds that weren’t practicing social distancing aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in park use. It’s been a lot higher than it normally is this time of year, almost summer levels on some of the nicer days,” Leo Evans with the Muskegon Department of Public Works said of his city’s parks.
Police have been monitoring Muskegon’s 34 parks and so far, things have not gotten out of hand. Evans said there have been no large crowds like the one in Grand Haven.
“We had a couple of little things,” he noted. “We had a couple of basketball courts that were getting out of control so we had to take some rims down.”
South Haven, which also saw an uptick of people at parks, put out signs reminding visitors to keep 6 feet away from one another.
“We know that outdoor recreation is very helpful to maintain good mental health but we have also cautioned folks that we’d like to keep these options open and we need your help to do that so maintain social distancing,” said Kate Hosier, South Haven’s assistant city manager.
Saugatuck is keeping Oval Beach open because it is so large that social distancing shouldn’t be an issue.
“We’re going to continue to keep the parks open unless we start seeing major problems and then city council will have to re-evaluate,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier said.
The city did close down the staircase at Mount Baldhead, saying it is too narrow for visitors to maintain distance.
Leaders in Muskegon, Saugatuck and South Haven say there is no plan to shut down beaches, parks or parking lots anytime soon. They say as long as people abide by the governor’s executive orders, they can keep them open.
“Use common sense, respect everybody else’s space and your own, take good measure take care of yourself and enjoy the beach,” Evans said.