Weekend in Virginia: Wineries, breweries, Shenandoah National Park reopen, with restrictions

With Virginia in Phase Two of its coronavirus reopening plan, most of Shenandoah National Park’s trails, campgrounds and facilities are open, while customer-starved wineries and breweries will be able to accommodate some customers on site.

According to the National Park Service, Shenandoah National Park is now open 24 hours a day.

The Old Rag, Whiteoak Canyon and Cedar Run circuit trails have reopened, from both Skyline Drive and the boundary.

Entrance fees will be collected at the boundary trailheads, unless you have a current pass.

According to the park service, parking will be limited to available parking spots in designated parking areas only. Vehicles parked along the roadside will be ticketed and towed.

Campgrounds in the park are reopening, at a limited capacity, and on a first come, first served basis, although previously-made reservations will be honored.

Per the Forward Virginia guidelines, a 20-foot separation will be required between campsites.

Backcountry shelters and huts are open for overnight camping, with visitors expected to self-register at kiosks located at entrance stations, Loft Mountain Wayside, the north and south entry points of the Appalachian Trail and the Old Rag Trailhead parking area.

Concession services are reopening at most of the park’s facilities. Big Meadows Lodge will reopen on June 25, and Loft Mountain Wayside will reopen on June 26.

The park store at Byrd Visitor Center is reopened five days a week, Thursday through Sunday. Masks are required at all indoor park facilities.

Several facilities will remain closed until further notice:

  • Picnic pavilion within Pinnacles Picnic Grounds;
  • Dickey Ridge Visitor Center;
  • Information desk and exhibit in Byrd Visitor Center;
  • Massanutten Lodge and Rapidan Camp historic structures.

Staff will not be able to hand out park maps or hiking maps, so they should be printed out at home. In addition, the Shenandoah National Park app can help visitors find their way around.

Winery, brewery restrictions in Phase Two

After three months of scrambling to stay afloat with curbside service and deliveries, Virginia’s wineries and breweries will be able to accommodate a limited number of customers, on site.

Wineries and breweries can welcome guests at 50% of the facility’s capacity — with a maximum of 50 people, while maintaining at least six feet of physical distancing between people — as much as possible.

Tables must be set up at least 6 feet apart. If tables aren’t movable, parties must be seated at least 6 feet apart.

Bar seats and congregating areas must remain closed, except for customers walking through the area.

Dance floors, game rooms and playgrounds must remain closed. If live musicians are performing, they must remain 6 feet from customers and staff.

The owner of a Loudoun County winery has filed suit against Gov. Ralph Northam, claiming the coronavirus closures are unconstitutional and have severely damaged his business.

Mount Vernon estate plans for reopening

George’s Washington Mount Vernon estate in Northern Virginia will announce its reopening plans next week.

In a video announcement released Friday, President and CEO Doug Bradburn said the estate would have new safety protocols and open in a limited capacity as part of the state’s Phase Two reopening protocols.

“It will be an exciting time to welcome you back here at the hallow grounds of George’s Washington’s Mount Vernon,” Bradburn said. “And I will assure you that it will be a safe and incredible experience.”

Guests and staff will be required to wear masks indoors and outdoors when “social distancing cannot be maintained.” Additional hand sanitizer stations will be added as well as signage reminding guests of the best hygiene practices.

Barriers will be added at the checkout counters at retail and restaurant areas to limit contact. Staff will be active in providing regular cleaning at the exhibits throughout the day.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch and José Umaña contributed to this story. 

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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