A few days after it was announced that provincial parks in B.C. would be off-limits to camping during the COVID-19 pandemic, some have now been closed altogether.
Parks in B.C. have seen an uptick in visitors, but many people have not been observing physical distancing, according to a news release from BC Parks. Public health officials have advised people should maintain at least a two-metre physical distance from others to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On the South Coast, Chilliwack Lake, Joffre Lakes, Murrin, Shannon Falls provincial parks, as well as the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and Protected Area, are all now closed to the public. Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park in the Okanagan is also now closed.
BC Parks said they will continue to monitor the outbreak and additional closures could be implemented on a “case-by-case basis” if required.
“People who still choose to visit provincial parks should be mindful that they are now responsible for their own safety and that washroom facilities will not be available,” the release stated.
Recreation Sites and Trails BC announced that its campgrounds and amenities would also be closed.
“The temporary closure includes RSTBC campgrounds where there is an increased likelihood of close contact with frequently touched surfaces, including toilets, kiosks, ticket booths, overnight shelters and day-use shelters,” the government agency said. “Day-use shelters, backcountry cabins, warming huts, ticket booths at snowmobile areas and other built facilities will be closed.”
Several Metro Vancouver municipalities have also closed their outdoor areas after people ignored physical distancing guidelines. On Monday night, White Rock’s city council voted in favour of closing the city’s pier, and the City of Vancouver closed its ball courts, playing fields and parking lots near popular beaches and parks.
“The mental and physical wellness benefit of being outside during the COVID-19 pandemic response is important, but keeping people safe right now is the most important thing we can be doing,” said B.C.’s Minister of Environment George Heyman in a news release. “Until we flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19 and people strictly comply with the (provincial health officer) physical distancing requirement, provincial park access will be restricted.”
For the full list of closures, including parks in the north and on Vancouver Island, you can visit the BC Parks website.