VANCOUVER -- Parking lots at Vancouver's beaches and parks will be open to the public again starting Friday, with a few exceptions.

The lots were closed in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to in an effort to promote physical distancing, encourage the use of neighbourhood parks and deter people from gathering at popular sites like Kits and Jericho beaches.

"The reopening follows careful planning and consideration by the Park Board and is in alignment with the BC Restart Plan," the Vancouver Park Board said in a statement. "Parking at beaches and parks is also vital to ensure there is equality of access to these spaces, particularly for residents with mobility challenges."

The reopening includes 7,000 stalls at beaches and parks across Vancouver, including the roadways at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Staff hope to have the majority of parking lots opened by Sunday, but a handful will stay closed, including the lots at English Bay and Stanley Park. The park board says this is due to the ongoing road closures to vehicles in the park and on Beach Avenue.

Lots at some community centres and park sites will also stay closed for "operational reasons," the park board says.

Park board staff had tentatively planned to reopen the lots for the May long weekend but chose to keep them closed after staff observed what it called a "decrease in public compliance" with physical distancing. Rangers issued more than 1,880 warnings the weekend prior to Victoria Day to people who were not complying with the recommended two-metre distancing guidelines.

The park board is also reminding visitors to keep at least two metres away from others, and that parking enforcement will be in effect at pay lots.