BRANDON, Miss. (WJTV) – Warmer weather is back to dominating most of the Jackson Metro forecasts and with Summer approaching boat traffic and swimming is on the rise on the Reservoir. But is the pandemic going to alter how boaters go out again? There was little we knew about the Coronavirus and how easily it spread indoors versus outdoors in the Spring of 2020. Based on what the CDC says now and vaccines accessible to anyone, authorities are being more relaxed this year.
At one point last year if boaters wanted to be out on the water, everyone on board had to wear a mask and the number of those on board could not exceed 50% of the capacity of the boat.
“This year it’s going to be back to the same about your capacity,” Reservoir Police Chief Trevell Dixon said. “If you’re rated for six you can have six people on your boat. So, we’re trying to get back to normal again because everybody is getting to the point where they’re getting the vaccine.”
While places on land sat empty Reservoir Police noticed more people turning to the water to get away from Coronavirus worries and this year is predicted to rise more in boat traffic.
“Think you also saw an increase in people buying boats to get out into the world in some form or fashion,” Chief Dixon added. “This year I think we’re going to have a lot more boat traffic. We’ve got a lot more events that are coming back so that’s the things we’re looking forward to.”
Boaters already taking advantage of the early spring weather reacted differently to the loosening of restrictions.
“I don’t pay much attention I think it’s silly the COVID-19 thing on a boat is silly,” Ryan Hood of Rankin County told us. “Because I’m in the middle of a lake so there isn’t nobody by me. I don’t see why I have to wear a mask in the middle of a lake.”
“I only fish with two people so I can continue to socially distance,” Derek Anderson stated. “My boat can hold four people but just to be safe I’ll fish with two.”
Chief Dixon explained most of his staff is already vaccinated so he will not require officers on duty to wear a mask while boating.
There’s already been one tragedy on the Reservoir this year, police say they’ll still be on patrol in full force watching for anyone not wearing a life jacket or boating recklessly as traffic picks up.