Commissioners extend essential-services only order; look to reopen county parks in May

WEST CHESTER — After consultation with county health officials, the Chester County Commissioners announced Wednesday the extension of the county government’s essential services-only operation through to Friday, May 15 at all county buildings.

In addition, the Commissioners announced a gradual re-opening of all seven parks owned by Chester County Government. The county’s Black Rock Sanctuary, Wolf’s Hollow and Exton Parks will re-open on Wednesday, May 6, and Hibernia Park, Nottingham County Park, Springton Manor Farm and Warwick Park will re-open on Tuesday, May 12.

“The continuation of essential services-only helps to protect the health and safety of Chester County’s 2,400 full and part-time employees, as well as anyone from the public,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz.

“And although we have been ‘open’ just for essential services like our 9-1-1 Center, Pocopson Home long-term care facility, the Chester County Prison and Youth Center, the Coroner’s Office and crucial court and human services functions, we have also been able to provide more than 60 percent of all County programs and services remotely during this time,” Moskowitz said.

Following CDC and state guidelines, a no-visitor policy remains at Chester County Prison, at Pocopson Home and at the Chester County Youth Center.

The Commissioners’ decision to re-open Chester County’s seven parks follows the announcement by Gov. Tom Wolf to re-open limited outdoor recreational activities.  While the three County-owned trails – Chester Valley Trail, Struble Trail and Schuylkill River Trail – have remained open during the pandemic, County officials have stressed the immense importance of maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, while on the trails.

That message of social distancing and wearing masks applies to anyone visiting a Chester County’s park once they re-open.

“The weather is improving, and visits to all of our parks are great for our physical and mental wellbeing,” said County Commissioner Josh Maxwell.  “But we cannot stress enough the need to continue adhering to the recommendations to stop the spread of the coronavirus – from keeping six feet apart and wearing masks, to the frequent use of hand sanitizer before, during and after visiting our parks and trails.”

All Chester County parks permits, pavilion rentals, volunteer programs and Ranger programs remain canceled for May and June, and as they re-open, the parks will have limited amenity access.  Parks officials also ask that, if the parking lots are full, please find another location for recreation where there are less people.

Chester County Health and Emergency Services staff continue to work alongside the state Department of Health and other partners to provide education, mitigation, communication and investigation services related to COVID-19 for both Chester County and Delaware County residents.

Related to the Governor’s plan to re-open businesses throughout the Commonwealth, the County Commissioners are formulating plans to get Chester County back to work as the impact of COVOD-19 lessens.

“Along with reviewing and monitoring our own county government plans for re-opening, we are consulting with the Health Department and other county business and economic leaders to agree measures that will get us back to work as quickly and safety as possible,” Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline said. “We will consult with the Governor’s Office on the measures that he is recommending for the region, but will ensure that we do what is right for Chester County, as part of that region.”

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