MINNEAPOLIS — We’re all craving some normalcy right now as the warm months approach.
Just prepare yourself.
“It’s not gonna be a typical summer,” Gov. Tim Walz said.
That probably comes as no surprise.
Minneapolis already closed beaches and pools for the season. Twin Cities Pride has been canceled. Concerts have been called off. Target Field remains empty with Major League Baseball in limbo. Memorial Day and Fourth of July plans may consist of small gatherings with immediate family. And by all accounts, it appears some form of social distancing will remain in place for several months, although it’s far too early to predict what May, June, July and August might look like.
At the same time, don’t lose all hope. You’ll still be able to walk in your neighborhood, use parks, grill in your backyard with family, and enjoy bike rides.
Lake activities like boating will also remain legal. Tom Jacob, the owner of Bay to Bay Boat Club in Excelsior, said his phone lines have become much busier over the past few days as people start planning summer activities on Lake Minnetonka.
“People are thinking about what they’re going to do to enjoy Minnesota summer,” Jacob said. “Boating seems to be the one thing people can do (while) social distancing.”
With stringent social distancing regulations in place, Jacob has taken drastic measures to ensure safe practices. He loaded up on “gallons and gallons” of biodegradable disinfectant and said he’ll monitor his boat club members to ensure they’re staying six feet away from each other on the water. Based on his interpretation of the state guidance, Jacob’s members can gather on boats if they’re part of a household or immediate family.
Otherwise, no clustering will be allowed.
“You just can’t tie up a bunch of tubes together, can’t tie up boats together or rafts together,” Jacob said. “And that makes sense.”
A Department of Natural Resources spokesperson said Minnesotans should adhere to the basic principles of the state guidelines while boating, meaning they should not travel outside their own communities to visit other lakes across the state.
Of course, that could present its own problems, Gov. Walz acknowledged.
“I can picture Minnetonka being overrun with people who would have gone up north,” Walz said. “We certainly can’t have party barges coming together.”
Despite the limitations, marina owners are just grateful the lakes will be open for business – one way or another.
“I think we all need a bit of happiness right now,” Jacob said, “but we’ve got to be smart about how we’re gonna do it, and we’re gonna do everything we can to make sure we follow the guidelines and our customers follow the guidelines.”
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.