Here's the latest update on how officials are trying to keep Metro Van parks safe
VANCOUVER -- On sunny days in Metro Vancouver, many stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak are wondering whether it's safe to visit their local park.
The majority of the region's parks remain open, though anyone visiting those public spaces is advised they should still follow physical distancing guidelines outlined by health officials.
This may mean straying from a path to pass another parkgoer, or crossing the street for similar purposes.
Essentially, people are generally not discouraged from spending time in these parks, provided they spread out while doing so.
But on Wednesday, representatives of Metro Vancouver announced the closure of one of the area's regional parks. The public is now prohibited from visiting Brae Island park in Langley.
"We know our regional parks are exceptionally popular, and recognize how important it is to spend time in nature as a way to reduce stress and care for both mental and physical health," Metro Vancouver Chair Sav Dhaliwal said at a news conference.
"To be clear, Metro Vancouver wants to keep its regional parks open. We know how much people value these green spaces, and we want them to be made a part of our daily health routine."
But, Dhaliwal said, if the situation changes and park visitors "lout the direction of health officers, we will have no choice but to close down our parks to public access."
Regarding other regional parks, officials said they remain open, though facilities including playgrounds and picnic areas have been closed.
Rental facilities and docks have been closed as well.
Some parking lots have also been closed at regional and municipal parks in the region, and Metro Vancouver has increased its staffing and "parking lot traffic management."
There are new signs at many parks, reminding anyone visiting the area to keep their distance and wash their hands regularly.
Those guidelines, as well as compliance with closures of certain areas and proper disposal of facial tissue, must be followed to ensure the region can keep its parks open, officials said Monday.
Members of the public are also asked to avoid the parks if they're sick. Behaviour will be monitored at the parks, the regional parks committee chair said.