Most provincial parks in British Columbia will reopen to the public on May 14 under the province's COVID-19 "restart plan."
All provincial parks were closed April 8 in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Before the closure, parks had been experiencing "peak season levels" of traffic, making it difficult for visitors to maintain physical distance from each other when using park facilities.
As B.C. gradually reopens its economy and allows for increased social connections among its citizens, parks will be among the first things to open, albeit with some restrictions still in place.
The provincial government's plan calls for "most parks" to reopen ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend, but those facilities will only be open for day use. Overnight camping in B.C. parks will not resume until June 1, according to the plan.
Additionally, the province says some parks will remain closed on May 14 and for the foreseeable future, because of the high volume of visitors expected.
"These parks will be monitored and adjustments made as soon as possible," according to the provincial reopening plan.
A full list of provincial parks and their anticipated opening dates can be found on the BC Parks website.
Even in the parks that do reopen on May 14, some restrictions may remain. Beaches, trails, picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches will all be open, but other facilities may not be.
"Visitor centres, nature houses and concession buildings may be opened on a case-by-case basis," says BC Parks on its website. "In some instances, facilities such as playgrounds, hot springs, halls, and picnic shelters will remain closed."
Similarly, when campgrounds reopen on June 1, BC Parks warns visitors "may notice some changes" to ensure proper physical distancing. Those changes may include additional spacing between campsites and limitations on the number of guests in campgrounds.
Some communal facilities at campgrounds - such as showers buildings - will reopen with enhanced cleaning protocols, while shared cooking facilities and backcountry cabins will remain closed.
Anyone considering going to a provincial park is reminded to follow the province's overarching COVID-19 guidelines, including staying close to home, avoiding travel to small or remote communities, washing hands frequently and staying home when feeling unwell.