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10 Southern and Midcoast Maine state parks closed due to coronavirus

Officials say recent overcrowding is hampering physical distancing efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's note: you've likely been seeing the term "flattening the curve" as a means of stemming the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means.

Several state parks and beaches in coastal Maine closed as of midnight Friday, March 27, 2020. 

In a press release Thursday night, The Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands said overcrowding at the parks is putting the public at risk of spreading the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and making it difficult to observe physical distancing. The decision to close some of the state's parks and beaches has the support of Governor Janet Mills.

The closed state parks and beaches include Reid State Park, Popham Beach State Park, Fort Popham, Fort Baldwin, Crescent Beach State Park, Kettle Cove State Park, Two Lights State Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, Ferry Beach State Park, and Mackworth Island. These locations will stay closed until April 8, 2020, at which time officials will determine whether to extend the closings based on the spread of COVID-19.

The Bureau of Parks and Lands says it is keeping an eye on how many people visit the parks and beaches that are still open. Officials are concerned that warmer temperatures will lead to overcrowding not just on public lands, but in neighborhoods and backyards leading to a higher risk of spreading the coronavirus. The Bureau says it may take additional measures at other parks and beaches if overcrowding continues to be an issue.

Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal said in a press release that the department will keep as many parks open as possible. Beal also encouraged people to enjoy the outdoors but to stay away from crowded areas.

The Bureau of Parks and Lands offered some suggestions for avoiding crowds outdoors:

  • Try visiting lesser-known places closer to home. Some suggestions include a Wildlife Management Area, or a less popular state park, public land, or local land trust.
  • Have multiple destinations in mind when you head out. That way if your first choice is too crowded you can try another location. The Maine Trail Finder can help you explore some lesser-known spots.
  • Try to avoid peak visitor times. Going either earlier or later in the day and keeping your visit short can help avoid crowds.
  • Your own backyard and neighborhood can also be a great source to recharge in the outdoors.

As it closely monitors the situation with the coronavirus, The Bureau of Parks and Lands says it is following the guidance of the Governor's Office, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency in its decision-making.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: coronavirus.

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