Oneida County health issues temporary closure of campgrounds
Oneida County Health Officer Linda Conlon issued a health order that temporarily closes all campgrounds within the county, effective April 17-May 16. Local health officers are required by state statute to “take all measures necessary to prevent, suppress and control communicable diseases.”
Immediate temporary closure of all campgrounds in Oneida County is “reasonable and necessary” to prevent and control the COVID-19 virus, Conlon stated.
Though Gov. Evers’ Safer-at-Home order lists campgrounds as essential, the health department states there are additional factors unique to Oneida County.
1. Oneida County has a large percentage of aged population, and data demonstrates the aged population is particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.
2. There are a large number of campgrounds, which draw thousands of people from inside and outside of Oneida County.
3. Camping in Oneida County encourages non-essential travel.
4. Camping allows for unmonitored congregating of groups of 10 or more people, which is prohibited under Gov. Evers’ Safer-at-Home order (Executive Order #12).
5. Camping and related activities reduces the ability to properly social distance, especially in communal locations in campgrounds (e.g. campsites and bathrooms).
6. The influx of campers to Oneida County will further tax already limited resources (e.g., health care system, groceries and other necessities) within Oneida County.
Seasonal campground site occupants who arrived on or before April 17, 2020, may be allowed to remain in place. Any seasonal site occupant that leaves the campground to return to his or her place of residence is not permitted to return to re-occupy the seasonal site. All seasonal site occupants that arrived on or before April 17, 2020 are encouraged to return to their residences.
The press release further states, “We are aware that Frequently Asked Questions, which accompany Executive Order #12, lists campgrounds as an “Essential Business.” Governor Evers has since ordered the DNR to close 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas and the DNR has closed campgrounds in state parks and recreation areas through April 30. These actions by the State are consistent with and support the need for this health order. This health order does not supersede orders for state campgrounds.”