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Norris Lake busy with boaters for Memorial Day weekend, marinas step up safety

Families are social distancing in the sun and marinas are predicting a busy and extended boating season.

CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Tenn — At Norris Lake, it looked like your average Memorial Day weekend on the water. Boats filled with families who chose to social distance and soak up the sun.

Boaters from all over, including Kelly Beth Hoskins from Harlan, Kentucky, said all the usual summer fun was in full swing.

"Riding around, tubing, water skiing, wake boarding, about anything you can do on the water," Hoskins explained.

Boaters didn't stray away from spending time in the sun on Sunday, and the manager at Norris Landing Marina in Claiborne County, Matthew Smith, thinks the water traffic will only get heavier during the pandemic.

"When you go to the lake you are isolated," Smith said. "I think a lot of families instead of investing in a trip to Disney World or to the beach they're gonna invest in a boat so they can go out here and they can isolate with their family and still do it safely."

RELATED: TWRA wants you to be safe, responsible as boating season begins

Marinas started seeing more boaters sooner, since schools and events were cancelled earlier in the year.

"We're expecting this year to be busier than any year," Smith nodded. "We're expecting this year to be extended longer than any year because of everything going on and the travel restrictions."

Owner of Norris Dam Marina, Mark Bardo, said this is the busiest May he has had in a while. He said people are eager to get out and enjoy the water.

But, this summer won't be like all the others, at least at waterside businesses. Marinas are working hard to maintain safety guidelines, like staff wearing masks and spreading out tables on the dock.

Norris Landing Marina is even operating at 75 percent capacity and serving people food in their boats to limit the number of people at the marina at one time.

"So we've kind of had to be on our feet and kind of adapt and roll with all the new guidelines to make sure, again, everyone is safe," Smith explained. "Not just customers, but my staff too."

Families said they are looking forward to getting out of the house and floating by one day at a time. TWRA is monitoring the waterways to keep people safe.

If you are going to spend some time on the water, officials recommend boating with less than 10 people and limiting your exposure to others who do not live in your household.

RELATED: 'It doesn't go away' | Mother of drowned 20-year-old man urges others to be safe around water