As the COVID-19 threat appears to subside, campgrounds across most of the Commonwealth get ready to reopen for overnight stays on May 21st. That promises campers the opportunity to start experiencing the Virginian nature just how they like it again after weeks of lockdown.

The news will lift even more spirits as the reopening also precedes Memorial Day Weekend. This will allow the community’s well-established tradition of staying out, not home, during the three-day holiday.

The provision, however, shouldn’t drive anyone into a false impression that things are getting back to how they were before. In fact, life, even when roofless, will now be much different.


Solitude Under Eternal Blue Sky

All lots available must now be 20-feet apart and there will also be no physical sharing of recreation equipment. The Department of Conservation and Recreation staff will encourage visitors to wear masks. They will also forbid unions of more than 10 at any time and anywhere on the campsite. Campers would do themselves good to not expect using picnic shelters, playgrounds, and visitor centers.

The bright side is, under those circumstances, campers will be able to revel in all the privacy some look for. Besides, their choices are clear: It is either that experience with certain precautions in place or nothing as violations might prompt authorities to reinstitute the understandably unpopular lockdown restrictions.

“Many [of the campers], I’m sure, have been well aware over the last eight to ten weeks of what’s been going on and how they need to respect each other and recreate responsibly is going to be the key to us being able to continue this opportunity for safe camping at our parks,” said Dave Neudeck, communications & marketing director for the Department. “It is important that they know there will be additional safety precautions before they go.”

The state parks’ official website carries expert recommendations as well as all the other relevant information. This includes information on how visitors should conduct themselves on the campsites.


Cautious Optimism

Like Virginia Beach’s First Landing, state parks have remained open for daytime hikes as the limits applied for overnight stays.

Highly contagious and potentially fatal, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a mysterious coronavirus.  Scientists argue the coronavirus may not even be alive. At least 4.8 million people have caught it since December. Of them, some 320,000 died.

The U.S. appeared as the nation where the virus took its grimmest toll on human life. More than a quarter of all fatalities worldwide were in America.

The pandemic also confined over 300 million Americans to within the walls of their homes for over a month. All schools and non-essential businesses were ordered to close.

Since early May, however, almost all of the 50 states nationwide have loosened their restrictions. They are trying to revive their economies while keeping a lid on new infections and deaths. In the Commonwealth, Governor Ralph Northam delayed reopening in Northern Virginia to at least until May 29th. Campgrounds in that part of the state, therefore, will take longer before they get back in overnight accommodation.