Good things will eventually come to those who wait to visit the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and to those who practice social distancing, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. For now, we encourage you to experience the park virtually through many online resources.
Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order now extends to Tuesday, May 26th, 2020. The order was set to expire on April 24th until Governor Tony Evers directed Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend it. Under the order, public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Governor Evers said in a prepared statement, “A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet.”
Secretary-designee Palm said, “Before we lift Safer at Home, the steps of testing and more robust public health measures must be in place. These steps will help us reduce the risk of a second wave of the virus. If we open up too soon, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and requiring more drastic physical distancing measures again.”
As was the case under the previous order, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore remains open for day use. The National Park Service has suspended overnight island use from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. until at least Saturday, June 20, 2020. Camping and overnight docking are prohibited. Under the governor’s order, people are strongly encourage to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins, and not to travel out-of-state if it is not necessary.
Day use of islands is still permitted. Visitors are asked to practice social distancing and leave no trace principles and to manage all of their own trash and waste. Due to safety concerns for both visitors and park staff, vault toilets are not available, and campfires are not permitted.
As an alternative to visiting now, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the National Park Service encourage you to take advantage of the lakeshore website, the Friends website and Facebook pages for both organizations. Teleworking park educators are creating fun learning tools for kids. Parents and teachers can find resources on the website, with more being added every week.
The extension of the Safer at Home order does allow more businesses and activities to open, at least in ways limited to protect the health and safety of employees and customers.
The changes in this order include:
Public libraries may now provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials.
Golf Courses may open again, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.
Non-essential Businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
Arts and Crafts Stores may offer expanded curb-side pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Aesthetic or Optional Exterior Work lawn care or construction is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.
Safe Business Practices for Essential Businesses and Operations: Essential Businesses and Operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary workers are present, and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers from coming to work.
Safe Business Practices for Retailers that Essential Businesses and Operations: Retail stores that remain open to the public as Essential Businesses and Operations must limit the number of people in the store at one time, must provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter, and large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.
Supply Chain: Essential Businesses and Operations that are essential because they supply, manufacture, or distribute goods and services to other Essential Businesses and Operations can only continue operations that are necessary to those businesses they supply. All other operations must continue as Minimum Basic Operations.
Local parks and open space: Local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to ensure social distancing or the areas are being mistreated.
Tribal Nations: Tribal Nations are sovereign over their territory and can impose their own restrictions. Non-tribal members should be respectful of and avoid non-essential travel to Tribal territory. Local government must coordinate, collaborate, and share information with Tribal Nations.
If you have questions, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document is available here for your review.
Photo credit: Jon Okerstrom, Michigan Island