Snowmobiling in the time of COVID – safety tips from the NYS Office of Parks and Recreation

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The snow fun season runs parallel with the cold and flu season, which this year might also include a rise in reported cases of COVID-19.

Data from the Outdoor Industry Association shows that Americans navigated towards an increase in outdoor recreation amid pandemic restrictions. This upcoming snowmobile season is predicted to follow that pattern.

“Due to the COVID pandemic, State Parks anticipates an increase in snowmobile trail use this winter,” Nearing said. “This expectation is based on an increase in snowmobile registrations compared to last year, a surge this year in use and sales involving motorized and non-motorized outdoor recreational gear and equipment, and current COVID restrictions that bar travel by Americans to Canada, a popular destination for snowmobiling.”

In New York State, the legal obligations for snowmobilers are unchanged, but the Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation does have some suggestions to keep everyone safe while participating this winter.

“There are no changes to snowmobile trails, laws or permitting requirements this season,” Deputy Public Information Officer of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic PreservationBrian Nearing said. “Snowmobilers are reminded to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines on social distancing and masking as outlined by the State Health Department.”

Nearing has some recommendations for snowmobilers to stay as safe as possible while enjoying the season. These include what has become the gold standard of COVID prevention: socially distancing at least six feet apart when on foot and wearing a mask.

“Wear one when you cannot maintain social distancing, especially in parking lots and when on foot during breaks from sledding,” he said.

But Nearing also has some additional recommendations.

“Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives; avoid sharing gear when possible,” he said. “If you arrive at a site, and crowds are forming, choose a different park, a different trail, or return another time/day to visit.”

He suggests that if parking lots are full, do not park along roadsides or other undesignated areas.

“To protect your safety and that of others, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available,” he said.

Nearing adds to stay home if you are sick or manifesting any COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing.

Additional tips include frequent hand washing with soap and water and covering any coughs or sneezes to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets.

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