It appears camping season in British Columbia won’t be a complete write-off during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The provincial government unveiled its plan to reopen the province on Wednesday, including timelines to reopen provincial parks and some overnight campgrounds.
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“Gathering outside is a good thing. Physical well-being, mental well-being all are added to when we get outside and enjoy the splendour of British Columbia,” said Premier John Horgan, Wednesday.
“But 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.”
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Most provincial parks will reopen on May 14, including many front- and back-country trails, bathrooms, picnic areas, beaches and boat launches for day use.
Select overnight campgrounds will be reopened for June 1.
BC Parks will implement physical distancing rules, which may include extra spacing between campsites and limitations on the number of campers in the campground.
It says some communal facilities, like showers, will open with heightened cleaning schedules, while campgrounds with shared cooking facilities and backcountry cabins will remain closed.
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The province says a “small number of parks” that draw big crowds or where reopening could pose a health risk to nearby communities will stay closed.
B.C. shut down its provincial park system on April 8.
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Horgan said Wednesday that even when parks and camping do reopen, the public is being urged to avoid long-distance travel.
“This is not the time for a road trip to another community for a hike or a holiday,” he said.
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“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.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Discover Camping — B.C.’s online camping reservation platform — was still not accepting new bookings for June or beyond.
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