Phased re-opening of the Lodge at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge announced

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, right, chats with Matt Whitbeck of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Melissa Baile of the Friends of Eastern Neck at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge during a 2019 visit. The Lodge seen here has been closed due to COVID-19, but will reopen this month on Saturdays and Sundays.

ROCK HALL — In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in coordination with the governor and local public health authorities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the Lodge at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

According to a news release, the Lodge at the refuge near Rock Hall will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The refuge is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is using a phased approach to safely increase access to Eastern Neck lands and facilities.

The refuge’s roads, trails and hunts have been open throughout the pandemic.

In addition, refuge lands that are regularly open to the public continue to be open and available daily from sunrise to sunset.

Those entering the Lodge will be required to wear a mask in accordance with the USFWS mask mandate as well as follow CDC guidelines. That includes social distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home if sick.

A return to full operations at Eastern Neck will be phased in according to protocols set by the federal government, the governor and local public health officials.

These decisions will be informed by the most current guidance and information from the U.S. Department of the Interior, CDC, Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of Health to ensure the health and safety of those visiting and working at Eastern Neck are protected, the release states.

The USFWS will continue to closely monitor conditions and adjust operations accordingly.

Check the refuge’s website for current updates and status, www.fws.gov/refuge/eastern_neck.

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