Arkansas to Lift Some Restrictions on State Parks on Friday

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Campgrounds at state parks are set to reopen Friday for overnight use by Arkansas residents with self-contained recreational vehicles, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday.

The parks had been restricted to day use only in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Arkansans love their state parks, and we know that because we track visitation, and we want to invite Arkansas residents back into our parks,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Campground restrooms and showers will not reopen yet, Hurst said. And high-use trails, such as those at Pinnacle Mountain, that have been closed will remain closed for now. Capacity at campgrounds will be limited, social distancing will be enforced, and the check-in/check-out process will be no-contact, Hurst said.

Reservations will be accepted Friday through Monday to allow for sanitation between renters. Hurst said people who live out of state and make an online reservation will be emailed cancellation notices.

The governor also set a May 15 target date for when parks plan to reopen cabins, lodges and other overnight rental facilities, such as yurts, to Arkansas residents. That’s also when the state is planning to reopen restaurant and food service facilities; museums and exhibits; retail businesses that include visitor centers, gift shops and golf pro shops; and marina and rental equipment businesses.

Hurst said her plan to reopen the campgrounds was reviewed and approved first by Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith and then by the governor.

In other news, the governor reported that the state’s COVID-19 cases rose to 3,111 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations, at 104, were down by five from Monday. Fifty-two Arkansans have died from the virus, and 159 have recovered from it over the past 24 hours. The state has reported a total of 1,146 recoveries.

Hutchinson also thanked Sig Sauer in Jacksonville for donating 2,000 masks to Arkansas Food Bank.

The governor is scheduled to talk Wednesday about whether and how the state will lift restrictions on restaurants.