Officials close lot at Michigan state park to deter guests

May 4, 2020 GMT

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Officials have closed the parking lot at a Michigan state park after crowds of visitors ignored social distancing guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Grand Haven State Park’s parking lot was shut down on Sunday. Mayor Robert Monetza said the city and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources decided to leave the park open but closed the lots to deter crowds.

“We knew that with the nice weather, it’d get busy and so we just knew we would have to keep an eye on it,” said Monetza.


“We really want people to come visit, but our priority here is public health and safety. That’s number one. If we can get people to stay home or closer to home and come here later when it’s safer, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” Monetza said.

He said the glorious weather last weekend and on Saturday attracted crowds to the beaches and, while he understands the draw of Lake Michigan, he would prefer people to stay away for now.

“We do have a beautiful town. We love our visitors. But right now we’re asking people, stay closer to home,” Monetza said. “Don’t come here. Just wait until this is over.”

Still, some visitors arrived on Sunday.

“It’s a gorgeous West Michigan day, so we wanted to see what the beach was like,” said Deb DeYoung.

The city has yet to decide when the parking lots will reopen.

About 20 miles to the south, Holland State Park’s lots remained open Sunday, but most people who left their cars were practicing social distancing — staying 6 feet from others — on the beach. A sign at the entrance of the park urged visitors: “Observe social distance.”