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Editor’s note: WCM added the information about the Campground Owners of New York helping to secure an “essential” designation for campgrounds and RV parks in the state on March 21, after the story was originally published. 

Many park owners were thrown into limbo on Friday (March 20) as some states including, New York, California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, saw government officials release orders that effectively closed parks in those states unless they were listed as an “essential service” due to the spread of COVID-19.

David Basler, vice president of membership and marketing for the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) told WOODALLSCM.com (WCM) late Friday evening that the association was able to help spur reversals in Florida, California, New York and Pennsylvania.

“This is all based on work being done by ARVC, the RV Industry Association (RVIA), the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and locally by the CampCalNOW RV Park and Campground Alliance, Florida ARVC, Campground Owners of New York and the Pennsylvania Campground Owners Association (PCOA),” he explained. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but we had some wins for campgrounds in those states.”

For the RV park and campground sectors, the issue mainly lies in whether parks are considered “essential services.” While many park owners and state association executives argue that they are, there is still outreach to be done on the state and local levels to get that designation.

In New York, the Campground Owners of New York was able to secure an “essential” designation for campgrounds and RV parks in the state.

“We’re pleased to share that independently operated campgrounds are included as ‘other accommodations’ under essential infrastructure,” the CONY announcement stated. “So, until further notice, we invite you to Camp New York.”

In Florida, Bobby Cornwell, executive director of Florida ARVC, told WCM earlier Friday that they are working hard with local authorities to show that they can be part of the solution to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Our parks have been taking all the proper precautions to make sure their facilities are as safe as possible,” he said. “And it is our belief that RV parks offer appropriate and essential accommodations and services.”

Amir Harpaz, who sits on Florida ARVC’s board of directors and operates 474-site Cypress Trail RV Resort in Fort Myers, Fla., along with another park in Georgia, told WCM that he believes state and local officials don’t understand the industry and that RV park and campground owners have their own ways of mitigating the spread of the coronavirus through the closure of amenities and buildings.

“Many of our campers feel as though they can practice social distancing better in their RVs, and for many, the RV is their home,” he explained. “I don’t think our officials have bad intentions, but as an industry, we need to try and work with these officials and tell them that we feel we can assist in mitigating the spread of the virus.”

While park owners in Florida, New York, California, and Pennsylvania can breathe a sigh of relief, association directors in those states are stressing the importance of following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

“We need to be a united front and demonstrate the need for our parks to stay open and that they are a safe place for residents and travelers,” noted CampCalNOW’s CEO and President Dyana Kelley.

The ARVC coronavirus blog is continually updating with information that is key for park owners, including links to the CDC coronavirus information page. To access that resource, click here. 

For state-specific questions, it is best to reach out to your state association. If you are in a state that does not have an association feel free to contact ARVC at (303) 681-0401 or [email protected]