With summer on the horizon, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says that while his administration is weighing whether to re-open state parks and other outdoor recreation areas, he continues to emphasize patience amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked by reporters Saturday whether his administration would re-open parks and recreation areas for the summer, Pritzker said that like all of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he will let science be his guide.
“I’m as frustrated as you are that we can’t enjoy the things that we enjoy every summer,” he said. “But I have to measure this (frustration) against the science.”
A group of downstate lawmakers have been among those calling on the governor to re-open state parks, which were closed due to the pandemic. That closure not only affects nature trails and playgrounds, but also fishing and hunting locations, and Pritzker says that any opening of those facilities could only come after a discussion about rules that would govern their use during the pandemic.
“I am looking at these kinds of things: what are the rules going to be? Would people have to space properly and wear masks?” he asked. “I want to remind you that we’re not even at our peak yet, and we have to start moving to the other side of the peak first.”
Other groups have called on Pritzker to re-open golf courses in the state, as governments in Indiana and Wisconsin have done amid the pandemic.
While Pritzker says he would love to see parks, golf courses and other areas re-open, he said that the opinions and research of scientists and other experts must be adhered to.
“I’m personally inclined to (re-open facilities) because all of us want to have a great summer, but I can’t rely on my own instincts and desires,” he said. “I’ve been listening to the epidemiologists and experts in Illinois, and I’ll make decisions on that as the data presents itself”