Spending time outdoors in nature has a number of health and wellness benefits, something that has become apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
With uncertainty about what exactly will be open for Canadians this summer as they seek places to spend their holidays, having access to national historic sites and national parks to get outside while following the guidance of public health experts, has been more important than ever.
As Parks Canada kicks off its 2021 visitor season over the May long-weekend, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, reminded Canadians of the importance of getting outdoors while following public health guidance and staying safe.
“Over the past year, so many Canadians have benefited from the health and wellness benefits that come from being outdoors and in nature. I too have taken every opportunity to get outside,” said Wilkinson in a press release. “National historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas offer countless opportunities for Canadians to safely connect with nature and history while following the guidance of public health authorities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”
In 2020, Parks Canada took health and safety measures including operating campgrounds at a reduced capacity, adjusting the capacity and visitor flow of indoor spaces such as visitor centres, historic buildings and washrooms, and modifying interpretative activities, to ensure that Canadians across the country could continue to enjoy nature.
This season will once again be different than previous years. Visitor access and services will vary across the country depending on local circumstances and only services where health and safety risks can be properly managed will be opened.
Before visiting, there are a few things that everyone should remember:
Plan ahead. The Parks Canada website provides detailed information on what locations are open, what to expect, how to prepare, and what services are available. Be sure to check the website before you visit.
Follow travel restrictions and respect the guidance of public health experts. We all need to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep one another safe. It is important to always follow travel restrictions, even when visiting national parks and national historic sites.
Make safe choices. Choose activities that correspond with your level of experience in order to help minimize the demands on emergency response, search and rescue teams, and on the health care system.
Be self-sufficient. Pack a kit that includes extra hygiene supplies such as hand sanitizer, soap, masks or face coverings, garbage bags and a tablecloth. You should be prepared to bring your own water and food.
Leave no trace. Help us keep these special places clean by using appropriate garbage containers or by taking all your garbage with you.
Respect wildlife. Learn more about the wildlife in the park or site you will be visiting, remember to never feed wildlife, always give them space, maintain a clean campsite, respect closures and speed limits, and keep your dog on a leash at all times.
Further information and tips for a safe and enjoyable visit are available on the Parks Canada website at: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/securite-safety/covid-19-info/covid-19-visite-visit.