RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — People packed area campgrounds, parks and lakes Sunday during the first weekend of the lifted outdoor mask mandate. Crowds at Falls Lake campgrounds enjoyed the eased restrictions. The campground bookings are nearly full for the next month.
“I like the outdoors I like getting on the water, it’s nice weather, I don’t have to wear a mask. It feels good. 80 degrees, the beer’s cold, I’m here to have a good time,” said one Falls Lake Campground visitor.
At Jordan Lake, many families were also eager to head outdoors.
“I actually like it, it seems like it’s more like it should be instead of being cooped up in the house all the time,” said Sandra Cuevas, a Jordan Lake visitor.
North Carolina Parks and Recreation spokesperson Katie Hall said park visitation numbers are already 20 to 30 percent higher than last year. Last year was their busiest year on record with close to 20 million visitors.
Hall believes the pandemic and lifted outdoor mask mandate has something to do with the spike in foot traffic.
“People are continuing to try to stay safe and minimize the risk of being exposed to or exposing others to COVID-19. The safest way to do that is to be outdoors. I think what we’re seeing is people looking for exercise for mental physical health and they love their state parks,” said Hall.
Officials say more visitors could mean more emergency incidents so they’re asking everyone to be safe and know their limits when out on the trails, lakes and other areas.