*** UPDATE: Starting immediately, all gatherings of more than 5 people are banned. Individuals should be interacting with the same people every day to minimize the risk of spread. ***
PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces a delay in the opening of the golf course at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick and the Great Swamp Shooting Range in West Kingston in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
"It's important to take necessary precautions at our public facilities at this time," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "While we're disappointed to delay opening DEM's golf course and shooting range, we will review these decisions in light of the guidance related to COVID-19 in the weeks to come and open these facilities to the public as soon as it is safe to do so."
DEM plans to open the Goddard Park Golf Course on April 15, subject to change. New rules and practices may be put into effect when the course is opened. The golf course is gated, and in order to preserve and protect the integrity of the entire course, people are not allowed to be on the golf course until the facility reopens.
DEM is delaying the opening of the Great Swamp Shooting Range in West Kingston until at least April 15. New information on the opening date will be provided when appropriate safeguards can be put in place.
In order to determine the opening dates for recreational facilities, DEM is evaluating whether certain activities can be safely managed, with social distancing, control of groups larger than ten, and regular sanitation in place. At the Great Swamp Shooting Range, in addition to assuring compliance with all safety standards, DEM range safety officers provide important instruction to assist shooters on an individual basis. To assure safe firearms handling a range safety officer must be able to closely observe and actively assist shooters with basic hands-on training. To adequately supervise and assist a person who needs help learning the proper way to grip a handgun or to safely "shoulder" a long gun, a range safety officer must have latitude to approach closer than six feet.
DEM's outdoor spaces remain open to the public, and DEM encourages people to enjoy them while adhering to the Governor's guidance on not gathering in groups and practicing social distancing. All indoor parks and management area spaces are closed. For more information on state parks and management areas, visit www.riparks.com/covid19.
Residents are urged to follow these guidelines for the safe use of parks and open spaces during the COVID-19 public health crisis as follows: • Do not visit parks, trails or other recreational areas if you feel ill or are exhibiting symptoms of illness. • Plan a trip to a nearby park for a short, local visit since restrooms are not available at most outdoor areas. • Maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet between persons. • Do not gather in groups of more than 5 people. • Follow CDC's guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during use of parks or trails. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and equipment. • While on trails, warn other users of your presence and as they pass, and step aside to let others pass. • Most areas, including state parks, are carry-in/carry-out for trash. DEM encourages visitors to bring water, snacks and food in reusable containers and a bag to bring your trash home.
DEM encourages everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island's response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
For information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.