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Some state park services to open starting Monday

Gov. Mike Parson


Missourians still can't camp at their state parks but other services will begin to open up next month.

Carol Comer, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said Wednesday that lodging and dining facilities, marinas and other businesses at state parks operated by contractors will start to open between Monday and May 15. She delivered the remarks at Gov. Mike Parson's daily COVID-19 briefing.

You can watch a replay of the news conference in the media player below.

Parson's statewide stay-at-home order lifts Monday and will be replaced by a new order that will allow businesses across the state to open.

Comer laid out other key dates, as well. Four parks that had closed after being inundated with crowds that made social distancing nearly impossible will reopen May 11, she said. Those parks are Elephant Rocks, Castlewood, Watkins Woolen Mill and Weston Bend.

A week later, limited off-road riding will resume at St. Joe State Park, Comer said.

However, park campgrounds, primitive lodging, enclosed shelters and visitors centers will remain closed and tours suspended through at least May 18, when those decisions will be re-evaluated, Comer said.

"We will continue to monitor crowds and visitation closely to prevent overcrowding," Comer said. She said gates to some parks might close temporarily if they're inundated with visitors.

Parson reiterated that data show the state is ready to open Monday. Hospitalizations are down across most of the state and testing capacity has risen, he said.

"Some people are excited, others are nervous and unsure," Parson said. "No matter what you’re feeling I want to assure you that we have prepared for this and we will continue to do everything we can to keep Missourians safe."

Missouri Department of Labor Director Anna Hui said the state has processed more than 400,000 unemployment claims since the pandemic began.

The state usually would process 2,300 to 3,000 initial claims per week this time of year. Since the pandemic began last month the state has twice gone over the 100,000 mark.

On Wednesday, the state health department confirmed more than 120 new COVID-19 cases and four new coronavirus-related deaths.

The Missouri Gaming Commission announced on Wednesday that state casinos will remained closed as the state reopens.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Matthew Sanders

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