Prepare for coronavirus-related changes to Sand Bar State Park this weekend

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A global pandemic won’t diminish the charm of Sand Bar State Park’s broad expanse of beach when its gates swing open Friday.

But bring your own drinking water and a lawn chair, park officials say.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 will dictate how fans delight in the low-key, family-friendly getaway.

For starters, parking at Sand Bar will open only during weekends until June 26 — about a month later than normal. 

That delay will give staffers extra time needed to perform clean-up and maintenance while following coronavirus-specific health guidelines, according to Rob Peterson, the Northwest regional manager for Vermont State Parks.

Each state park will issue guidelines that suit its particular needs, Peterson added: check in on the division’s website for details and updates.

What will be missing from Sand Bar on Memorial Day weekend?

Sand Bar remains “much as Mother Nature left it at the end of winter” these days, Peterson said: The grounds and beach are less tidy; the grass has yet to be mowed.

Other changes:

  • No running water or toilets.
  • No picnic tables or volleyball nets.
  • Playground equipment will be off-bounds.
  • Canoe and kayak rentals suspended for the season.
  • No food concession/snack bar this year.

Sand Bar’s upsides are likely to continue drawing fans, Peterson said — it’s the most popular state park for day visitors.

Beginning with Memorial Day weekend, visitors can count on:

  • Job site-style chemical toilets, equipped with hand-sanitizer.
  • Plenty of parking.
  • Amazing sunsets.
  • Plenty of space (about 15 acres) for social distancing.
  • Barbecue grills.
  • Ample shade away from the beach.

Lake Champlain’s water remains too cold for most swimmers, Peterson said, “But it’s still a great place to throw the Frisbee, bring a lawn chair and soak in what’s out there.”

New constraints will underscore the park’s “partnership with the public,” he added: “For this to work, people need to give each other space, they need to be careful and respectful of each other.”

Another reminder: Public gatherings will continue to be regulated by the state — currently, crowds must limit themselves to no more than 10.

Making a pilgrimage to Sand Bar from out-of-state? As per the governor’s office, prepare to quarantine 14 days elsewhere in the state before paying a visit.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or joelbaird@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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