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Looking ahead to summer, some outdoor activities will remain

Although some restrictions will remain, boating and fishing will go on as planned this summer

WAYZATA, Minn. — You can feel the optimism in the air at Lake Minnetonka. 

"We all need it," said Tom Jacob, who runs Bay to Bay Boat Club. "It's summer, it's Minnesota, boating's the answer. So, our business for the boat club has picked up significantly."

Boating is allowed under the current Stay at Home order and will likely remain a popular outdoor activity this summer – albeit with restrictions. The Department of Natural Resources has asked the public to stay six feet away from other boats and to only cluster with members of their own immediate household, among other restrictions.

Jacob, who plans to open May 17, says he will sanitize every inch of every boat, likening it to the kind of safety precautions already in place at, say, Target and Hy-Vee.

"Basically, I'm doing what the grocery stores are doing with the carts, and spraying them down," Jacob said. "I have two different kinds of disinfectants."

Minnesotans may also be eager for the fishing opener on May 9, which will go on as planned with similar restrictions. At resorts like Twin Pines on Lake Mille Lacs, cabin rentals are still allowed.

"I think I only had one cancellation for my cabins, for my opener," Twin Pines owner Linda Eno said. "So, everybody is chomping at the bit to get out on the big lake, and get out fishing."

The COVID-19 pandemic hit in between fishing season, but it has still made life difficult. The bar and restaurant have suffered at Twin Pines, of course, because of the ban on dine-in restaurants. Plus, the governor's order currently discourages long-distance travel within the state. That could be an issue for the resort, which draws heavily from the Twin Cities.

It raises a lot of questions for Eno.

"Are they gonna still make it up? Do they feel comfortable coming up? Do they have the discretionary income to come up and fish?" Eno said.

Campgrounds and RV resorts, meanwhile, remain largely closed to the general public – with some exception for year-round or regular residents. All the outdoor industries, whether they're currently open or not, will anxiously look to see what Gov. Walz does after the Stay at Home order expires May 4.

Back at Lake Minnetonka, the boating might look different than most summers.

But some boating is still better than no boating, one might say.

"That's what people need to do," Tom Jacob of Bay to Bay said. "They need a little release, need a little enjoyment right now."

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