To help control the spread of COVID-19, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is now closed to public visitation until further notice, the nature preserve announced Wednesday.
Bernheim said closure was a drastic, but necessary step to protect the safety and health of visitors, volunteers, staff and the community.
The announcement press release said:
“This decision was not taken lightly, as we believe in the healing powers of nature. We also recognize that we need to do our part in helping to control the rapid spread of COVID-19 by discouraging public gathering. In anticipation of increased visitation arriving with warming and drier spring weather, it is now necessary to take this step to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone. As proud members of #TeamKentucky, we want to support any efforts to keep all Kentuckians safe and healthy.
Although we prefer to immerse our guests in nature, Bernheim simply cannot allow crowds to gather inadvertently as attendance increases in the spring. Studies have shown that even photos of nature can help bring peace and healing, so we encourage visitors to experience the sights of spring, like the blooming magnolias, by taking walks around your neighborhoods and interacting with virtual experiences many organizations are offering.”
All programs through May 3 are canceled and will be rescheduled when possible, Bernheim said. Bernheim officials will continue to monitor the latest developments of the COVID-19 outbreak and follow guidance from state and local authorities to determine when it can reopen.
“In the interim, be sure to check our social media (@bernheimforest) for ways you can connect with nature while social distancing,” the press release said. “Bernheim has been connecting people with nature for 91 years. We look forward to the day when we can fully serve and immerse our visitors in nature again. We take a cue from nature and know that every winter brings spring and sunshine always follows rain. So, we too will get through this.”
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest hosted 530,000 visitors from all 50 states and more than 36 countries last year.