Last week, after several weeks of constant cleaning, Fort Frederica decided it was keeping the park open and closing the Visitors Center for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. We tried keeping the Visitors Center open and limiting the number of people in it at a time. But I was still (as the inside person) cleaning the games and displays constantly. My hands were red and cracked from how much bleach I used and how often my hands were wet.
Instead of having the Visitors Center open, we will have a table outside to welcome guests. You might think keeping the park open is the wrong decision, but people need to have something to do. Fort Frederica National Monument is a beautiful place with wonderful trails. We are never crowded like the big parks. Last week, when all the museums on the island closed, we had about 300 guests per day. We stay on one side of the table and the visitors stay on the other side. Instead of handing them brochures, we let them pick them up.
In addition to keeping the park open, we are also keeping the restrooms open and cleaning them regularly. We use masks and gloves and lots of bleach. People rely on the clean restrooms at the national parks. We have plenty of Purell, available to visitors, thanks to our maintenance supervisor who always buys things in large quantities.
Some people would say we are encouraging people to move around by keeping the park open. People are already moving around by coming to the island for vacation. Or they live on the island and need someplace to get out and walk. The folks that visit have been very good about keeping their distance from us and from one another. They have also been very thankful that someplace is open.
Tom and I feel comfortable continuing to work under these conditions. But we all lull ourselves into complacency when we are in familiar surroundings. We can only live on high alert for so long. Keeping the park open is important to us and we will continue to do so as long as we are able.