Tennessee & Virginia parks prep for Memorial Day weekend with COVID-19 precautions in place

Local Coronavirus Coverage

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – Municipal and state parks in Tennessee and Virginia are gearing up for a busy Memorial Day weekend.

Now, they are under added pressure to make sure visitors are ready for the outdoors with COVID-19 measures in place.

Bristol Parks and Rec Director Terry Napier said overall park attendance is up and expects it to remain high heading into the weekend.

“Obviously, Steele Creek Park is where we’ll see the bulk of our traffic,” said Napier. “We’ve put up banners into the park entrances weeks ago just reminding people six foot of social distancing.”

Napier said he anticipates Governor Bill Lee will announce playgrounds can open back up this weekend.

Shelter and picnic table use will be on a first come, first serve basis.

“A typical Memorial Day we have nothing available,” he said.

There will be more signage reminding visitors they are using the facilities at their own risk.

“We do have paddle boats, we do have the miniature train, we do have the nature center, and right now, all those activities have been suspended,” said Napier.

Tennessee State Park campgrounds are booked in our area.

Across the state line, Dave Neudeck with the Virginia Department of Recreation and Conservation said Virginia state parks still have some availability in Southwest Virginia.

“We have been gearing up for this phase one reopening of our campgrounds and anticipation of even more visitation, possibly at all of our parks,” said Neudeck.

The reopening will also include bathhouses and restaurants, with new guidelines limiting people in those areas.

“Our visitors centers, our other museums and all that will remain closed and that also includes our playgrounds and our picnic shelters,” Neudeck added.

Kayaks, canoes and paddle boat rentals are on a park-by-park basis at Virginia state parks, and if available, will include a sanitation crew.

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