While several regions across the United States have started to either partially or fully reopen, some have also bucked against the trend and are choosing to err on the side of caution.
However, Idaho is looking to strike a balance for now, with federal agencies placing extended closures on several of the state’s parks and forests.
Continued Closures as Contagion Fears Mount
Sports and Weather Right Now reported that the United States Forest Service had confirmed the extension of closures across several forest and wildlife reserves in Idaho. Some of the areas include the Salmon-Challis National Forest, which will be closed until at least mid-May.
The restrictions also extend to the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Salmon River. Permits to float across the water bodies are now unavailable through to mid-May. In addition, all developed recreation sites – including daily-use sites and camping grounds – will be closed until next Friday.
“Forest Trail No. 6232, the Warm Springs Trail and the area within 250 yards from the center of Gold Bug Hot Springs,” will remain closed for the rest of the month.
Anyone with permits to step on any of these grounds – or water bodies – will be notified of the permit’s cancellation, and all fees paid will be refunded.
As agency officials explained, the closures are in line with the mission to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Chuck Mark, Salmon-Challis National Forest supervisor, in the news release that while they would like to open these sites, a lot of them would end up attracting an unhealthy amount of people for now.
“As spring progresses, many of these recreation sites are beginning to become accessible. We will continue to monitor the situation closely. The forest is developing a plan to phase reopening some sites when conditions allow,” he added.
Idaho’s Four-Stage Reopening Process
While most of these areas will remain closed, the state’s government has remained resolute in its plan to open the state and allow for people to continue moving freely.
Last month, Governor Brad Little announced a 4-stage plan to get the state working again, adding that the progression will help make for conducive economic recovery.
In his plan, places of worship, daycare centers, and youth activities will first be allowed to open – a process that started on May 1. As expected, all of these would be required to adhere to strict physical distancing guidelines.
The next phase will kick in on May 16, and it will involve restaurant dining rooms, recreational facilities, hair salons, and indoor gyms. All these businesses will have to submit a plan to the state government for approval before they can open.
Phase 3 will allow daily interactions between people, although with physical distancing rules. People entering the state will also no longer be mandated to undergo 14-day quarantine, and non-essential travel will be allowed. This phase starts on May 30.
The last phase will kick in on June 14, allowing gatherings with over 50 people to occur. Still, those will have to follow physical distancing rules. Factories will be allowed to staff as they see fit, and bars and nightclubs will be free to operate with minimal standing-room occupancy.
Idaho’s coronavirus cases are expected to move past the 2,000 benchmarks before the end of the week, as the state had 1,994 cases at the end of yesterday. Still, given the economic effect that the stay-at-home orders have had on everyday Americans, the government has decided to continue with the reopening.