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As Indiana reopens, campgrounds frustrated they remain closed

Posted at 7:46 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 19:46:45-04

GREENFIELD — Even as more and more parts of Indiana's economy begin to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses remain closed.

Normally, campgrounds would be packed this time of year. But right now the only people allowed to stay at the KOA campgrounds in Greenfield are essential workers and full-time RVers.

"We specialize in creating a place for families to have fun, recreational camping," Rachel Vaughan, Indianapolis KOA operations manager, said. "People cannot do that right now. So right now we are only able to have essential workers here and those that live in their RVs. So it is very disappointing because this is our big season."

Springtime is huge for the Indianapolis KOA campgrounds — 90 percent of their business is RV camping. Typically, they'd be hosting many people right now for the Indy 500 and other events happening in the Circle City. But even without those events, they see no reason why their business has come to a halt with campgrounds unable to oepn until May 24.

"I think that is like starting a football game in the third quarter," Vaughan said. "People here are obviously very spread out as you can see. Our sites are huge."

According to the state's re-opening plan, campgrounds are set to open in phase 3 — the same as gyms, fitness centers, pools and movie theaters.

"We really should've never closed. Hotels, they have been open the whole entire time," Vaughan said. "But people can actually park their RV at a hotel, go stay at a hotel and use someone else's amenities. So it just doesn't make a lot of sense."

Vaughan said it is mainly nurses who are staying at the campgrounds right now. Their playgrounds are closed, recreational areas closed, so everyone is fully contained in their own space.

But, that isn't changing the governor and state health commissioner's minds when we asked if they'd consider loosening restrictions.

"The thing with campgrounds is when you open something up and not everything is open, everybody flocks to the campgrounds," Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner, said.

"How we gradually bring folks back online, we have to spread this out to make sure that the virus isn't spreading and that we can continue to dial up or down as we go," Gov. Eric Holcomb said. "They're tough decisions for sure."

When they do reopen, KOA corporate has provided their 500-plus locations across the country with a 37-page manual on how to keep spaces clean and other safety procedures.

The Indianapolis KOA will plan on reopening May 24.