Sherwood Forest event violated executive orders.

June 30, 2020

Sherwood Forest event violated executive orders.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

ROTHBURY — After the cancellation of the massive Electric Forest Festival held annually at the Double JJ Resort due to COVID-19, the resort held a smaller-scale event last weekend, which is the weekend when EF normally would have taken place.

The event resulted in two “imminent danger” violations for the resort relating to executive orders aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, according to Health Officer Kevin Hughes of District Health Department #10. However, the resort will not be sanctioned for the violations.

A cease and desist order was issued for the Double JJ to close its indoor water park, Hughes said. The water park was closed Saturday, June 27, but it had been open Friday, he said. DHD #10 has video evidence that proves the water park was operating Friday, he added.

Under state executive orders, indoor water parks in this region are not allowed to be open, said Hughes, although, northern counties are allowed to have water parks at 25 percent capacity.

The resort was also in violation of exceeding the 100-person capacity order, said Hughes.

Double JJ General Manager Rita Kovylski said the water park was operating at “quarter capacity” for about a week until resort officials found out it was not allowed to be open.

Hughes said he found out about the Sherwood Forest event Thursday evening after reading a news article about it. “We didn’t have any advance notice. We need to have advance notice.”

Oceana County sheriff’s deputies were sent to the scene to check on the event to see if it was in compliance with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders, said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast. The sheriff’s office was asked by the District Health Department #10 to help investigate the situation.

Two DHD #10 staff members also visited the resort, Hughes said. Kovylski said she was told by one of the DHD #10 employees that the violations would not be enforced. “He gave me copies of them, but said they’re not being enforced.”

The resort sold an estimated 650 wristbands for the Sherwood Forest Appreciation Weekend, said Hughes, which far exceeds the 100 state-mandated maximum for gatherings.

Kovylski said the ranch’s spacious area easily allows for social distancing, and signs were erected throughout the grounds directing people to social distance.

The event included camping, music stages with DJs, access to the Sherwood Forest, wellness workshops, vendors, meals, access to the resort’s outdoor water park and complimentary shuttles, according to its Facebook post.

The price for “general admission campsites” was $200, and wristbands sold for $150 per person.

Hughes said no further action will be taken against the resort. “If they continued to operate the event, then we would work with the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement. There will be no further action unless they try to host another event.” DHD #10’s actions accomplish “a realization that they’re being watched,” he said.

The resort had initially planned to host the event two weekends in row, which would have included this weekend — July 3 and 4. However, a decision was made a few weeks ago to cancel the second weekend, Kovylski said, because it is already anticipated to be a busy weekend at the resort due to the Fourth of July holiday.

The general manager said the resort did not contact the health department prior to the event, but the Rothbury Police Department, Grant Township Fire Department and Life EMS were notified.

One of the main reasons the resort had the event was to give people an opportunity to be in the Sherwood Forest, which is an iconic part of the Electric Forest experience. There have been issues over the last few months with people entering the Sherwood Forest, which is located on private property owned by the resort. “We’re trying to stop them from being in the area,” she said. Fencing around the forest has been erected to keep people out. “There are 150 “no trespassing” signs asking people to leave.

Kovylski said the cancellation of Electric Forest has taken its economic toll not only on the resort but also area businesses. “It’s been devastating for the the festival to be gone from this area. It’s tough on everybody around here.”

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