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Public Restrooms at Campsites to Open, But Metro Pools are Staying Closed

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Under Gov. Kim Reynolds’ new guidelines, pools and modern restrooms and shower facilities at campgrounds are allowed to open on Friday, but not everyone is ready.

Memorial Day weekend would normally be the start of the season for pools around the metro but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced some major changes.

“We’d be ramping up for summer and right now that’s just not happening,” Des Moines Parks and Recreations Communications Manager Jen Fletcher said.

Even though on Wednesday Governor Reynolds lifted the restriction on pools to allow for swimming lessons and lap swimming.

However, as many pools across the metro don’t feel comfortable enough to protect their customers and staff, they also can’t justify the cost of opening.

“In a normal year we would nearly be in the black from an operating standpoint but if we had to open it this year or wanted to open it this year we likely couldn’t get as many people there as much and we would still have the same operating costs but a lot less revenue,” City of Clive Leisure Services Director Richard Brown said.

Lost revenue is one thing the Iowa DNR is not worried about when it comes to campsites in the State Park System because they are almost all booked for this weekend.

“With 75% reservability, all but…. You could count them on your thumbs, there were not very many that were not reserved but with the governor opening up the campgrounds, people can walk in, so walk in reservations, that other 25% are going fast,” Iowa DNR State Parks, Forrest and Preservation Bureau Chief Todd Coffelt said.

The Governor’s new guidelines allows restrooms and shower facilities at campsites, as well as rental cabins to open on Friday.

“We’re following CDC guidelines for environmental cleaning so we’re cleaning once a day or as needed, so in our busier parks it’s going to be more often, we’re going to conduct sanitation activities as we’re able,” Coffelt said.

There is also now a limit of only 10 people allowed on a campsite.

“We’re really trying to limit the probability of large groups to start forming, we want to encourage and promote the idea that you’re there for your own experience of camping, you’re not there to get a large group of people together for the sake of getting together,” Coffelt said.

The City of Des Moines says they will announce whether or not they are going to open pools by the end of May or early June.

To reserve a campsite at a state park, go to https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Camping

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