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As the weather gets nicer and people feel the itch to go outside more, social distancing guidelines are still important to maintain while enjoying the outdoors.

Nathaniel Hodges, Moniteau County's Missouri Department of Conservation (DOC) agent, said people should be keeping six to 10 feet of distance between each other, and there should not be more than 10 people in a group, even while outdoors. Luckily, Hodges said, it's easy to do so when taking advantage of the outdoor activities available in the state of Missouri.

"The outdoors is a great place to do that we can go outside and not get within 100 feet of people if we want to on our conservation areas, state parks, and even city parks, too," Hodges said. "For the most part, we can get farther away (than six to 10 feet). Social distancing is way easier to do outside than it would be anywhere else, practically."

For the past three weeks, Hodges said agents and other DOC employees have been tasked with monitoring public use of conservation areas and to remind visitors of the social distancing guidelines. Hodges said that locally, it seems that people are distancing themselves well.

"For the most part, what I have noticed locally is that most of our areas still have regular use and people seem to be distancing well," Hodges said. "Outside of if there is a family or something together, but people who are not there together seem to have plenty of space between themselves."

There is an increase of area use thanks to the nicer weather, Hodges said, but he has not noticed any problems arising as a result.

The biggest thing for people to remember to do when outdoors is to maintain proper social distancing, Hodges said. Another important thing to be mindful of is to seek medical assistance if one is not feeling well.

"I mean really, as long as you are keeping that six to 10 feet from people outside of your household, that is the biggest thing," Hodges said. "If you are sick, if you are coughing, you have a temperature, you don't feel well, seek medical attention and don't get around anyone else because that will be a big thing as well. As far as (the) outdoors goes, those would be the main things."

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