Recreation options get up and running

Mike Elenbaas, of the Village of Sabal Chase, exercises about five days a week at the SeaBreeze Regional Recreation Complex.

The Villages Recreation and Parks department is putting plans in place to safely reopen more offerings beginning April 1. Highlights include Camp Villages operating at various capacities, fitness centers returning to full capacity, recreation center kitchens resuming operations and more. The spirit of community in The Villages amid the pandemic has been among the keys to getting more recreation options up and running again, said John Rohan, director of The Villages Recreation and Parks Department. “In speaking with local health advisers, it’s directly correlated to folks doing the right thing to keep themselves safe,” he said, also mentioning vaccination efforts and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials among a combination of positives driving the decision.

Additional cleaning, sanitization and safety measures also will be implemented, according to a district memo.

The expansion of recreation offerings is the first significant change since late October.

“It’s really a tribute to our residents and volunteers who have followed the CDC and local health department guidelines and recommendations to keep themselves and their neighbors safe,” Rohan said.

Here’s a closer look at what’s planned for April:

What’s Opening

* Recreation equipment and supplies will resume normal checkout and use, with users encouraged to sanitize items before and after use; sanitation stations will be provided.

* Camp Villages will open at full capacity for outdoor activities and at 50% capacity indoors.

* Socials and other recreation-sponsored events will resume indoors at 50% capacity.

* Resident Lifestyle Events will resume indoor activities at 50% capacity.

* Water fountains and coolers, ice machines and coffee service will resume normal operation. Please bring your own water bottle.

What’s Expanding

* Kitchens will resume normal operations for warming, cooking and prepping food and drink; disposable items are required.

* Fitness clubs will resume normal operations. Softball fields and score booths will resume normal operation.

* Kiosks will be staffed.

* Pools at Chula Vista, Hilltop, Paradise and Southside recreation facilities will stay open until 11 p.m.

What’s Already In Place

* Best practices for indoor social distancing of 6 feet between people and mask wearing in closer proximity will remain the same unless CDC, state or local health officials issue new recommendations.

* Recreation facilities including complexes, centers, areas and pools will be open until dusk for outdoor facilities and until 9 p.m. indoors, unless otherwise specified.

* Courts are operating at 100% capacity from 7 a.m. until dusk.

* Enrichment Academy courses remain at 50% capacity.

How to Proceed

* Valid Villages ID or guest ID cards with photo will be required, with residents and club members having priority when capacity is limited.

* Register for outdoor excursions including kayaking, fishing, nature tours, dragon boating and the Lake Sumter Landing boats, which resumed normal operation this month, online at https://www.districtgov.org/departments/Recreation/OutdoorExcursions.aspx.

* Administration offices will continue operating by appointment and with virtual meetings. Call the department you need directly or call 352-753-4508 for assistance.

* Residents who are sick and have a fever, a cough or shortness of breath, or who have been exposed to COVID-19 or show any of its symptoms, are asked to stay home until a doctor has cleared you.

For a full list of recreation activities and facilities, visit thevillagesdailysun.com/app/recnews.

Associate Managing Editor Bill Zimmerman can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5284, or bill.zimmerman@thevillagesmedia.com.