coronavirus illinois

How to Properly Social Distance When Passing or Approaching Someone on a Trail

Lake and Cook County forest preserve officials are urging people to follow social distancing rules, even on the trails

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Illinois' stay-at-home order allows for residents to go outside for exercise, but how can you do that safely?

Suburban forest preserve officials are urging people to follow social distancing rules, even on the trails.

"It is essential that visitors step aside and maintain a 6-foot separation between people or family groups at all times and follow other public health guidelines while in parking lots or on trails," Ty Kovach, Lake County Forest Preserves executive director, said in a statement. “If safe social distancing rules are not followed, we may be forced to close the trails and preserves immediately.” 

Here's what Kovach recommends:

  • Family groups of two or more break into a single file line.
  • Move to right shoulder when approaching or passing others.
  • Step to the side if you notice someone approaching.
  • When in the parking lot, wait until the area is clear of others before exiting or entering your car.

Kovach said the majority of Lake County's forest preserve trails are 10- or 12-feet wide, leaving plenty of room to maintain proper spacing. While the trails in the area remain open, all public public buildings, restrooms, playgrounds, marinas, golf courses, visitor centers and dog areas are closed, however, due to the stay-at-home order in effect through April.

Cook County said all trails, buildings, grounds and bathrooms are closed at nature centers countywide through May 11, but several forest preserve sites remain open "for fresh air, exercise and access to nature." They offered further recommendations for trail-goers.

  • Do not visit the forest preserves if you are sick or experiencing symptoms.
  • Wash your hands before and after visiting.
  • Carry and use hand sanitizer if you touch surfaces like handrails.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes (preferably with a disposable tissue).
  • Keep a minimum distance of six feet from other trail users at all times.
  • Warn others on the trail of your presence and step off the trail when necessary to maintain six feet of distance.
  • Bring your own food and water—do not use drinking fountains or water pumps.
  • Help us by carrying any trash out with you, particularly used tissues or food wrappers.

With warmer weather arriving in the Chicago area this week, many state and area officials feared crowds would flock to outdoor areas, potentially setting back any progress made during the stay-at-home order so far.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director for the Illinois Department of Public Health, warns that people who congregate during nicer weather Tuesday could set back any progress the state has made in its fight against coronavirus.

Illinois has barred all activities at state parks, fish and wildlife areas, recreational areas and historic sites in another move to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

In Chicago, the Lakefront Trail, Chicago Riverwalk and 606 Trail remain closed indefinitely in an effort to prevent congregation. Area beaches, fieldhouses, playlots and playgrounds were also shut down.

Police have begun ticketing groups of people gathered in public places as well in an effort to deter people from ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Still, officials maintained exercise is allowed, if social distancing is followed.

“Please do not go congregate in the park,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference Monday, warning Illinois residents ahead of the warm weather. “It’s fine to walk outside of your home, but do not go meet people.”

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