Outdoor Activities Largely Unimpeded By Coronavirus Pandemic — With A Catch

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/03/25/outdoor-activities-largely-unimpeded-by-coronavirus-pandemic-with-a-catch/

Are outdoor activities still permissible in Massachusetts amid the coronavirus?

For the most part, yes.

As of Tuesday this week, golf courses, driving ranges, tennis courts, and basketball courts are no longer open, because they did not make the list of essential services laid out in Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s stay-at-home advisory.

But a spokesman for a state agency contacted by New Boston Post on Wednesday, March 25 specified what kinds of outdoor activities are permitted.

“In accordance with the orders and advisories implemented by Governor Baker to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, all Wildlife Management Areas overseen by MassWildlife are open for the public for outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, walking, birding and other nature-based activities,” said Craig Gilvarg, press secretary for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in an email message.

“Visitors of these areas are reminded to be mindful of COVID-19 guidance, practice important social distancing measures, practice good hygiene at all times, and to always keep pets on leashes per WMA rules,” he added.

In Massachusetts, freshwater fishing in lakes, ponds, and major rivers is permitted year-round, provided that the people fishing have freshwater fishing licenses and follow the rules on MassWildlife’s web site

Gilvarg said that trout pond stocking is happening as it would in any other year. The state began stocking ponds with trout on March 2 and is continuing to do so. On Tuesday, March 24, for example, the state stocked 31 bodies of water with either eastern brook trout, rainbow trout, or brown trout.

Saltwater fishing is also open for those with licenses — however, in these parts that fishing scene is more active later in the spring, when greater numbers of fish return to the waters off Massachusetts.

Hunting, although allowed for those with permits, is slow — for now. The only species in open season is crow (January 1 to April 10). Crow hunting is permitted in all 14 of Massachusetts’s hunting zones with no limit on how many people can keep.

Gilvarg told New Boston Post that no changes have been made to the next prominent hunting season:  spring wild turkey hunting, which is scheduled to run from April 27 to May 23. Turkeys may be hunted in all parts of Massachusetts except Nantucket (which is known as Zone 14), which never permits turkey hunting.

(No big loss to hunters on Nantucket. According to the Nantucket-based magazine Yesterday’s Island, wild turkeys are uncommon on the island.)

All state parks are open for activities like walking, hiking, jogging, and biking, according to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. Yet people are advised to limit their outdoor activity time, practice social distancing, and stay home altogether if ill, over 70 years old, or have a pre-existing condition that makes them particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

Gilvarg also directed New Boston Post to the governor’s recent comments concerning outdoor activities amid the pandemic.

“But if you’re at the park, there should be no pick-up basketball and no activities or events that create the person-to-person contact we are seeking to eliminate,” Baker said at a press conference on Monday, March 23. “This spreads the virus.”

“We are advising people to use common sense – and consider how they can avoid unnecessary close contact with another,” he added. “Every step we all take to cut down on the chances this thing has to spread — is a way to help our community get through this.”

Not concerned. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.