CORNELIUS, NC — It's been nearly three months since the coronavirus pandemic began in North Carolina, and Cornelius police are already noticing a new trend: reckless boating complaints are up on Lake Norman.
"The theory it's because of all the kids with their new home school and their new schedule, it's put a lot more watercraft out there," said Sgt. Matthew Figaro of Cornelius Police Department's Lake Patrol Unit. "We're getting a lot more calls for reckless operation."
In late May, North Carolina entered into a "Phase 2" easing of restrictions, however mass gatherings limitations remained, with no more than 10 people gathered together indoors and 25 people outdoors.
"The COVID restrictions are still in place. That's a total of 25 people outdoors, meaning if you have three boats and they have more than 25 people between you, then that's a violation," Figaro said.
Since restrictions began, CPD has responded to 14 COVID-related violations on the lake, a police department spokesperson told Patch.
Figaro said boaters should remember to "stay 150-feet away from everything and don't ride side-by-side."
Boaters must be at least 14-years-old to operate a personal watercraft by themselves, "however, in order to do that you have to have the boater safety certification," Figaro said.
Figaro also said boaters should:
- Make sure everyone on board is wearing a life jacket
- Prepare a float plan
- Refrain from drinking alcohol in excess
Figaro said anyone who has questions about boating safety or COVID-19 restrictions may call CPD Lake Patrol Unit at 704-892-1363.