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Guidelines for boating during COVID-19

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson is offering tips on how to enjoy area lakes without violating the letter or the spirit of the Stay at Home order.
Credit: kare11

MINNEAPOLIS — With a bit of snow still on the ground courtesy of Easter's snowstorm, it's hard to conceive that this weekend will bring temps in the 60s, and perhaps... boats in the water.

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson and the Water Patrol are offering tips on how to enjoy area lakes without violating the letter or the spirit of Governor Walz’s “Stay at Home” order. By following these guidelines, boaters will be able to get out on the water while minimizing the risks to the health of themselves or others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the weather warms up, there’s a natural drive for Minnesotans to get outdoors,” said Hutchinson in a written statement. “We certainly understand and encourage that. However, we are asking everyone to follow a few additional safety guidelines so that everyone heading out onto the water can do so safely. Now more than ever, we need to make sure we’re considering how our actions affect those around us.”

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office says boaters should do the following to remain safe while honoring social distancing guidelines:

  • Only boat with those in your immediate household.
  • Do not invite guests onto your boat. This includes family members not in your immediate household and your favorite fishing buddies.
  • Go right from your house to the boat and back, avoiding all unnecessary contact with anyone during your trip.
  • No beaching or tying up to other boats. Keep your boat and the people in your boat at least 6 feet away from other boats and people.
  • Do not use a beach, boat ramp or marina that is closed.  

In addition to the new COVID-19-inspired guidelines, the Sheriff’s Office asks boaters to keep in mind the safety guidelines that are always in place. 

  • It’s especially important to wear a life jacket when boating. Currently, water temperatures on all bodies of water are cold. If you were to fall into water, hypothermia happens quickly in these conditions.
  • When boating or spending time near water, let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Carry all required boating safety equipment, including life jackets, flares, navigation lights, a horn or whistle, a first aid kit, and everything else on your safety checklist.  
  • Clean your boat after going out. This will not only prevent aquatic invasive species from hitchhiking on your boat, but also will ensure there is no trash or other items left lying around. 
  • Parents and caregivers should supervise children when they are near the water.
  • In addition, Sophia’s Law requires that all recreational boats that have an enclosed accommodation compartment, including sailboats with motors, must be equipped with a watercraft carbon monoxide detector.
  • Enjoy our shared natural resources responsibly.

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