By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – State agencies want to make sure Coloradans are ready for a holiday weekend during the COVID-19 pandemic so families enjoying the outdoors and entering crowded locations do not spread the Coronavirus.

“Fourth of July weekend, it’s always a busy one, a lot of people are excited to get out,” said Jason Clay, public information officer for the Northeast region of Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “We want people to be smart as they get out, we want them to plan out.”

(credit: CBS)

Clay says it is important for anyone wanting to go outside to be organized before they ever leave on their trip. They also need to have backup options if the situation changes. He advises having food and equipment ready before you leave and considering locations that will be less crowded. He also thinks it will be necessary for some to avoid peak hours, between 9:00 a.m and 4:00 p.m., as some spots will reach capacity in the morning.

“People need to be patient and flexible this weekend,” Clay told CBS4 by video conference call on Monday. “If you want to really guarantee your spot at whatever your place you want to go, probably the best practices are to go early in the morning.”

Staff with the Colorado Joint Information Center responded to an email from CBS4 about guidance for the July 4th holiday weekend. Wearing a mask and following social distancing practices are needed to avoid cases from climbing in the state, the email said. The responsibility increases on the individual as the restrictions decrease, according to staff. Anyone participating in activities with other people is advised to keep their group small while maintaining the proper distance and washing hands regularly.

“Be flexible and maybe try to research and look at areas that maybe won’t be quite as crowded as some of the spots are,” Clay added.

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Health officials want to encourage the public to ask important questions about their travel plans not only about their group size and if their activities will be outside with room to keep distance. Considering your own health and travel methods will also be essential because of the potential impact they have on spreading the virus.

State agencies also want to use the discussion about summer activities to remind the public about wildfires. Evacuating homes and deploying firefighters to camps becomes even more of challenge because of COVID-19.

It is Operation Dry Water this weekend, part of a year-round effort to educate boaters and reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol and drug use on the water. Enforcement will take place over the three-day holiday weekend, according to Clay.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife wants to make sure residents know that beginning July 1st anyone 18 or older will need a valid hunting or fishing license to access certain areas managed by the agency, it is part of their effort to conserve wildlife habitat.

“Keep yourself safe this weekend, go out there and have fun but follow the rules and regulations,” he said.

Shawn Chitnis

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