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Warm weather may make social distancing tougher

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Posted at 7:20 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 19:20:55-04

LANSING, Mich. — As the sun comes out, doctors and state leaders have concerns about how warmer weather will interfere with social distancing and local police say enforcement may look different.

Like many Michiganders who are becoming stir-crazy while they're stuck in the house, East Lansing resident Meagan and her two young daughters hit the park to enjoy a picnic off the water.

"You have to get the fresh air," said Meagan. "We came out, we saw the baby ducks in the river."

Over the weekend, as temperatures hit high 70's and people felt the itch to get outdoors, The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) saw an increase in people flocking to state parks.

"We've had locations where we've had some issues with a lack of social distancing by some people," said Ron Olson DNR Parks and Recreation Chief.

The increase caused concern that warmer weather might interfere with the plan to keep people a safe distance apart.

The city of East Lansing will take the approach of issuing warnings first to people breaking the rules.

"Generally we take an educational approach with people and they are more than understanding and we have not had to take any enforcement on those issues," said Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez.

So far neither East Lansing, Lansing, nor Jackson have given out any tickets or made any arrests but say they will be responding to calls about violations.

In Eaton County, Sheriff Tom Reich tells FOX 47 his office has seen 83 stay-home order related calls but haven't ticketed anyone just yet.

"We haven't issued any violations. We make sure that people are informed of the law and that they adhere to it. The only citations that are issued are for people who have committed crimes who are also in violation of the executive order," said Reich.

The DNR's law enforcement division has given out more than 100 warnings and written a few tickets. They're asking people to try to visit parks close to home and not travel across the state just to get to a beach. If they continue to see a lack in social distancing they will issue more closures.

Governor Whitmer said an announcement on state park closures could be coming this week.

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