A child fishes at Ramsey Lake State Park (RLSP) in Fayette County. RLSP is not currently among state parks reopening Friday, May 1. (Courtesy photo, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — Restrictions will loosen slightly in Illinois beginning Friday in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, certain guidelines will be a requirement; otherwise, restrictions may have to be tightened back up.

Illinoisans heard in an announcement from Gov. JB Pritzker last week that all residents over the age of two will have a requirement to wear some form of nose and mouth protection as of midnight on Fri., May 1. This requirement applies to locations which abiding by a six-foot physical distancing threshold is not possible. Moreover, the extension of the shelter-in-place order makes the conclusion date May 30. The order is currently under contention in court via lawsuits from Reps. Darren Bailey and John Cabello as a result.


Currently, there are no restrictions on face protection. Moreover, they could be as simple as a handkerchief tied around the nose and mouth. This is due to loose language defining “face protection”, as long as it prevents water droplets from transferring from one person to another.

Pritzker made a declaration in the announcement that if the guidelines are not followed, the partial restriction reductions can be repealed.

Limited re-opening of state parks in Illinois

Certain state parks are reopening beginning Friday for limited activities. Locally, Wolf Creek and Eagle Creek state parks in the Shelbyville are re-opening.

Unfortunately, some other local parks managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are not reopening at this time:

  • Hidden Springs State Forest (Strasburg, Shelby County)
  • Shelbyville State Fish and Wildlife Area (Bethany, Moultrie County)
  • Beaver Dam State Park (Plainview, Macoupin County)
  • Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area (Coffeen, Montgomery County)
  • Carlyle Lake & Carlyle Lake SFWA (multi-jurisdictional, Fayette, Bond and Clinton counties)
  • Ramsey Lake State Park (Ramsey, Fayette County)
  • Rend Lake SWFA (multi-jurisdictional, Franklin and Jefferson counties)

– Lake Update for 18 April 2020 –

Posted by Lake Shelbyville, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday, April 18, 2020

– Lake Update 27 April 2020 -Expect the unexpected! Wear your life jacket.

Posted by Lake Shelbyville, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday, April 27, 2020

However, requests for comments from IDNR representatives or local park directors were not returned.

Different story for Army Corps of Engineers facilities

When it comes to the facilities under management by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, some facilities are open while others aren’t.

At Carlyle Lake, an April 2 news release states that all facilities are not open until further notice. However, a social media post on Thursday reveals that day-use areas are open, but imposing the six-foot rule.

At Lake Shelbyville, boat ramps are open without fees. Additionally, the trails were open with the six-foot rule under enforcement. That was according to an April 18 report.

However, campgrounds are shut down until further notice, according to a report Monday.

Finally, at Rend Lake, select boat ramps and day-use areas are open, according to an April 25 social media post.

Enforcement action in Illinois

Law enforcement agencies will be mandating the mask requirement, reminding violators of the order. Repeat offenders will likely be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Event cancellations

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of regional events. Among those cancelled are the Macon County Fair, Assumption Fest and Moweaqua Pow Wow Days. Other events are holding meetings in the upcoming weeks to determine if they should move forward with plans or cancel until next year.

For more local and Illinois news, follow Jake Leonard @JakeLeonardWPMD and Heartland Newsfeed @HLNF_Bulletin on Twitter. Additionally, you can follow Heartland Newsfeed on Facebook and Reddit among other platforms.

Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and a contributing writer for My Sports Vote, Ambush Sports and Midwest Sports Network. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dogs Sparky and Buster.

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