LURAY, VA -- As the Commonwealth moves into Phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, Luray Caverns is taking extra precautions to reassure visitors and employees of their safety.
The U.S. Natural Landmark reopened June 5th with a new "Clean from the Ground Up" health and safety plan outlining everything from face masks to self-guided tours.
"We have really reimagined all of our operational procedures here, and our safety protocols," John Shaffer, Director of Public Relations for Luray Caverns told 104.7 WONK FM's Jen Richer.
In addition to maintaining 6-foot social distancing for contactless ticketing, plexiglass barriers have been installed in point of sale areas to protect both guests and employees, which is a priority as tourism begins to pick up again.
"We are one of the largest employers in the whole region, and obviously it's been a long three month, but the visits will increase ... and people do intend to travel maybe closer to home, we would be a destination for people," Shaffer said.
Visitors then receive a comprehensive pamphlet with information on geology and descriptions of each major area with varying numbers of team members circulating for distance monitoring, safety and information.
"In our buildings, we have also taken a special effort to make sure everything is clean, obviously we are monitoring the 50 people who are in the building and there is a team member in every region of the building that will be disinfecting and cleaning every hour," Shaffer described.
Luray Caverns has also committed to the sanitation guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention with hourly cleaning procedures for all high-touch surfaces.
In an effort to cut down on group sizing, guests who are not visiting as a designated group move directly into the attraction, as opposed to queueing up along the pathway.
However, there are many parts of the experience that will feel the same.
For parents looking to supplement the zoom classroom curriculum from the last few months, Shaffer said a trip to Luray is "fun as well, but it's also very educational to learn about how the earth formed. Even on our website there are some experiments people can do at home, so even before families arrive, they can have a little refresher course to encourage an educational visit."
Luray isn't limited to a lesson in earth science. Shaffer says, "In addition to the caverns, "there are three museums that are part of the admission here: one is the car and carriage caravan museum, that is the history of America as told through transportation, the Shenandoah Heritage Village, a collection of 19th century buildings, and the Luray Valley Museum."
As many families are opting to change their summer vacation plans to more domestic destinations, Luray offers attractions to make a weekend trip. Shaffer says the lodging is now open in the Shenandoah National Park.
Whether you decide to add Luray Caverns to a weekend trip through the National Park, or make a day trip out of it Luray has given special attention to ensure everyone's safety.
Listen to the full interview here: