LAKE MONROE — Hoosiers are being encouraged to practice social distancing while marking the unofficial start to summer on the beach at Lake Monroe.
“This is the first real good warm spell we’ve had,” said Monroe Lake Asst. Property Manager Corey Rieman. “It happened to fall on the perfect weekend for it to bring people out.”
Two months after Indiana’s stay-at-home order took effect, Rieman said many Hoosiers have been eager to get out to the park’s campground areas and beach. While visitors have been steadily coming to the park since Friday, they’re also being encouraged to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Public gatherings in Monroe County are still limited to 25 people or less.
“We’re encouraging people to stay six feet away from people that aren’t immediate family,” Rieman said. “Even if they’re friends and they’re not in your immediate family, we still encourage you to stay six feet apart to continue flattening the curve.”
Most beachgoers appeared to be sticking to that general guideline on Memorial Day. While the beach was busy, visitors appeared to be gathered in groups of 10 people or less.
“Just kind of mingling amongst family and stuff instead of mingling amongst everybody else and stuff like it used to be,” said Anderson resident Jean Parrish. “I think people are just more cautious now of staying within your own family and not trying to get so much of a herd of a group together.”
“Staying in our own little group, staying away from other families,” said Mooresville resident Jason Sookram. “Just want to have fun, enjoy the water and the sunshine.”
“We just picked a spot that was a good distance away from everyone, and then when we go in we’re going to just find a spot that’s not too close to the families,” said Indiana University senior Savannah Bucher.
While park staff members were wearing masks while interacting with the public, park visitors are not required to wear masks. No visitors appeared to be wearing masks on the beach. However, several visitors said they had masks and hand sanitizer packed in their bags or car.
“We definitely have plenty of masks if we have to go anywhere, go out into a public place that we’re not familiar with or haven’t been before,” Sookram said.
Park restrooms were also open to visitors, and Rieman said those were being cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.
“They’re only as clean as the last person that was in there, but we’re going and hitting it as much as we can,” Rieman added.
Rieman said the numbers of visitors to the park appeared similar to Memorial Day weekends of previous years, although he has noticed some visitors change the timing of their plans.
“There have been some people that have indicted that they’re not ready to be around big crowds,” Rieman said. “You see those people out earlier. They’re still coming, but they’re coming out earlier and avoiding the crowds.”
“It’s still scary because there’s a pandemic going on, but it’s really nice to be able to still get outside and be with your friends,” said Indiana University junior Maddie Boehm.
“I fell pretty good,” said Mooresville resident Tabitha Cooper. “As long as we stay away from everybody, stay in our own little group.”