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Ready for play: Golf courses, campgrounds to open Friday

That peaceful scene as golfers once again are able to play golf on the greens.

The calming scent of a campfire that can be smelled from fellow campsites nearby.

Starting Friday, golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide. With restrictions.

Don Laine Campground in Palmerton posted Monday night, “Well how excited is everyone?”

The campground said it did not have the official guidelines for operating with social distancing, but the bathhouse, playground and rec hall are definitely off limits.

No gatherings are allowed at any site.

“We look forward to seeing everyone from a distance,” the campground posted.

Jim Thorpe Camping Resort is limiting the number of available sites and limiting group reservations to fewer than 10 guests.

Staff will be wearing masks and gloves. Registration will be conducted behind a Plexiglas counter. Online prepay is encouraged.

There will be no beverage vending machines on the grounds.

RV Campground RelaxNation at 1500 Rock St. in Franklin Township will be open for business come Friday.

The RV campground said guests are invited to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

Formerly Riders Resort, RelaxNation has rental RV units for guests who want to experience the outdoors, while the property offers plenty of wide open spaces to socially distance safely.

“After things normalize and restrictions are further eased and lifted, RelaxNation will resume events, festival, groups activities, and group camp outs,” the resort said in a release.

Campgrounds in state parks will remain closed through May 14.

Mountain Valley Golf Course in Barnesville reached out to golfers on its Facebook page.

The pro shop opened at 8 a.m. today to book tee times.

“Our entire team cannot wait to see you, as we all work together to ensure your safe and enjoyable experiences,” the club posted.

Blue Shamrock Golf Club was not available to comment by presstime but recently posted information on its website about social distancing. Tee times are restricted, golf carts are to be cleaned and sanitized after every round.

Customers must park one space away from other vehicles in parking lot. Extra hand sanitizers are placed in designated areas, but golfers should bring their own.

Are we ready?

Jerry McAward, owner of the Lehighton Outdoor Center, said that while his business hasn’t yet been given the green light, he’s concerned about the ramifications once it does.

“I have significant reservations myself about opening this early; I think it’s the wrong thing to do, frankly,” McAward said. “When all the tourists come, they come from the most infected areas,”

Further, McAward said attractions are what make people travel across borders.

“So, I think for our standpoint, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we’re classified as attractions,” he said. “Paramount to me is the effect on my staff and because we deal with 20,000 people a year that mostly come from areas that are more plagued by this than us because of density of population.”

Which is why McAward cautioned businesses need to be extremely careful once they open shop.

“I think every business owners that are open need to be ultra careful while they open,” he said. “We’re going to put up Plexiglas barriers, require masks of everybody, require cleaning on a really regimented basis; we have to have procedures in place. We can’t eliminate the risk, but we can work to minimize it. I think that has to be really adhered to,”

McAward said he’s spent many a late night wondering how to protect his staff and the visitors who come to his business once it opens, adding, “I think a second wave of infection is inevitable.

I’m happy that businesses can open; I worry about a rude awakening. For us, it increases the risk when people move around.”

McAward said that while it’s good for businesses to open, he doesn’t foresee this year being a good year financially.

“It’s exciting to open (but), I think it will be a terrible year businesswise because people are out of money, out of a job,” he said.

McAward said that once his business opens, it will be under different parameters than visitors have come to expect.

“I’m going to try to not have our lobby full, (and will) have people waiting outside,” he said. “Even though these measures could kill this business of mine, I believe in them.”

McAward said they will also likely minimize the amount of time people can spend in the building, and are going to close showers this year and may have bathroom monitors as well as outside check in, though he noted they could also do drive-in check-in.

“People probably won’t like all of it, they may like some of it,” he said. “Everyone is sick of this not being able to do everything.”

However, McAward said he looks back to the flu pandemic of 1918 and how the second wave of infection was much greater than the first “because once all these similar measures were removed it was like a party. The second wave was much more significant than the first.

I think for us with practicing the social distancing, now we’re board with it and ready to let go. I think the public in Carbon County has to be more vigilant with this in the next three months; we can’t eliminate the risk; we can just make it better.”

McAwards said just because businesses are eventually able to open, they must think safety first.

“Yes, we’re all happy, but don’t stop being careful,” he said. “I think we all have to be aware we have to open up sooner than later, but there’s risks.”

All businesses reminded people to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines:

• Stay close to home: Enjoy outdoor recreational activities within their community and avoid crowding popular destinations.

• Practice social distancing: Maintain the recommended minimum 6 feet apart from fellow recreationists. Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to wear a mask or protective garment that covers the nose and mouth any time they go outside. Wait longer at a golf hole for a fellow golfer to move forward.

• Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs and handrails.

An aerial view of Blue Shamrock Golf Course is shown recently. Gov. Tom Wolf announced that golf courses, campgrounds and other recreational activities can open Friday. People should wear masks and practice social distancing. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS