One of Ohio's most popular nature destinations will close at sunset today, April 3, to try and prevent spread of the pandemic coronavirus that causes COVID-19, Ohio officials say.
It's the first state park to close due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that Hocking Hills State Park's popularity and its setup make it impossible for hikers to stay six feet apart from each other on the park's narrow trails.
Many of those trails back onto steep cliff faces or hills, meaning it's difficult for hikers to step off of the paths to give enough space to each other to avoid risk of contagion, officials say.
At this time, ODNR says there are no plans to close other state parks in Ohio.
The novel coronavirus that has spread across the globe has triggered the shutdown of schools and non-essential businesses in Ohio. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a stay at home order effective March 23 that requires Ohioans to avoid venturing out except for food, medicine, exercise and other essentials.
DeWine extended that order yesterday, adding new provisions designed to further prevent the spread of the virus.
At this time, Cincinnati Parks are still open, though popular destination Spring Grove Cemetery closed to visitors this week.