Governor Walz reopened some outdoor recreational activities last week, such as golfing, boat landings and marinas, and state parks. In his EO 20-38, he reiterates the importance of staying active. According to the CDC, physical activity fosters and improves overall health, reduces the risk of diseases, and generally makes people feel better.
Regular physical activity, including outdoor activities such as walking in parks, bicycle rides, and gardening can help with the adjustment to new routines and support social, mental, and physical wellbeing. Participating in outdoor activities is a good way to stay healthy, reduce stress, and enjoy time with family.
Although Minnesotans are strongly encouraged to stay close to their primary residences, many outdoor recreational activities are available close to Minnesotans’ homes and can be done safely. Before the new order, Minnesotans were able to go outdoors and engage in activities such as walking, running, fishing, and hunting if they maintained an appropriate social distance from other households.
The new order opens up Minnesota State Parks, trails, state forests, state recreation areas, wildlife management areas, and other State-managed recreational lands. It also opens up boat landings, marinas, docking services, gas, and boat pump-out stations. Bait shops are open for the sale of live bait, and outdoor shooting ranges and game farms are open.
Public and private golf courses and outdoor driving ranges are also open. This will help get isolated Minnesotans out of their homes and safely into the great outdoors while restarting the state’s golf industry. Golf courses are asked to stagger tee times, and players should stay six feet away from others. Courses must remove anything someone might touch such as rakes, ball washers, and water coolers. They must also raise the cup sleeve, so balls bounce away, eliminating the need to touch the cup or the flag. People can only share golf carts with household members, and the courses must clean and sanitize carts after every round. Many courses also are taking tee times only by internet or by credit card in advance to limit interaction upon arrival.
Off-highway vehicles, snowmobiles, and watercraft repair shops, sales facilities, and showrooms are open by appointment. Still under the closed provisions are all campgrounds, and outdoor recreation does not include tournaments, team events, and events that attract a crowd. Stores that sell recreational equipment, recreational equipment rentals, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing also remain closed under this order.
As we move into trying to open more activities and businesses, we must use science to guide our decisions. We haven’t reached the peak of the pandemic yet, and it’s imperative Minnesota remains smart in the decisions we make by weighing a slowing opening up of businesses and activities with keeping people safe, helping our health care system handle the ill, and saving lives.