Provincial parks in British Columbia have been closed for nearly a month. Now, some of them could be reopening in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
At the start of April, all provincial parks in the province were shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19. It was also a measure to prevent excessive travel and encourage people to stay closer to their homes.
When Premier John Horgan announced BC’s “Restart Plan” on Wednesday afternoon, he revealed that parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces could tentatively reopen by mid-May.
“We put in place, in British Columbia, a plan that has slowed the growth of the virus and put us in a place for a safe restart of our economy,” Horgan said to reporters.
The restart will be phased out in intervals of two to four weeks. The first wave of restorations is scheduled to begin during the middle of May, with a focus on health services, personal service establishments, restaurants, transit services, childcare, and outdoor spaces.
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Horgan clarified that provincial parks are included in this phase; however, overnight camping won’t be an option just yet.
“I’m happy to say that we will also be reopening provincial parks for day use,” he said.
The premier stressed that it must be in small groups and that people will need to remain mindful of physical distancing.
“We must do so in a safe manner. We can’t congregate in large groups when you visit a provincial park. Do so mindful of the people around you and observe physical distancing,” he said.
“Dr. Henry’s been clear that this physical distancing outside will reduce the likelihood of the virus; in fact, the likelihood is very low provided you follow these basic guidelines.”
While some provincial parks will open in time for this month’s long weekend, Horgan also notes that this isn’t the time to take a road trip to another community.
“If you have a provincial park in your area, by all means, visit it. Do not travel great distances. We need to stay close to home; that’s a key part of our recovery.”
If BC continues to slow the spread of coronavirus, more parks, as well as overnight camping, could make a return for June.
“Proceeding to the next step will depend on the outcomes and the path of COVID-19,” Horgan says. “If we’re doing well and we see more opportunities, we’ll be opening up more businesses like more parks with camping.”