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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. Last week, Missouri State Parks, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, announced a phased reopening of campgrounds as a part of its continued efforts to return to normal operations in conjunction with Gov. Mike Parson's "Show Me Strong" Recovery Plan.

Missouri State Parks campgrounds began reopening to accommodate existing campground reservations at 3 p.m. Monday. In addition, new reservations are being accepted as of Monday for arrival dates beginning Tuesday.

Missouri State Parks will also be instituting a number of changes related to campground operations to better facilitate appropriate social distancing and improve the safety of operations for Missouri State Parks' guests and staff.

The additional measures include the following:

Reservations will be required prior to arrival.

Campground occupancy will be limited at some parks and sites.

Missouri State Parks will increase the frequency of cleaning shower houses and restrooms.

Campers will use a new contactless, self-check-in feature.

There will be occupancy restrictions in shower houses and restrooms.

Missouri State Parks will only accept credit and debit cards.

One of the changes visitors will experience is a new contactless, self-check-in feature. Prior to arriving at the state park or historic site, campers will receive an email with instructions on how to access their reservation online and check in on the day of arrival. Alternatively, upon arrival, campers can check in by opening the camera on their smartphone device, hovering over the QR code posted at the campsite and following the prompt.

Missouri State Parks staff will be available at the park or historic site to answer any questions.

Campers also should be aware that reservations will now be required at most campgrounds and park-run lodging prior to arrival, and can be made up until 7 p.m. the day before arrival. First-come, first-serve camping will no longer be available at most state park campgrounds. New reservations can be made by visiting mostateparks.com.

Missouri State Park beaches will open to the public May 21, with visitors expected to practice social distancing.

Visitors should review signage posted throughout the parks and state historic sites, and diligently follow the guidelines for the health and safety of others provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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