High volumes of visitors prompt provincial, national parks to close

Parks Canada Photo by Jean Faucett/Shutterstock

In an effort to reduce visitors and lessen the risk of virus transmission, Parks Canada is temporarily suspending motor vehicle access for visitors to national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas as of March 25 until further notice.

Despite efforts to reduce visitation including closing facilities and suspending visitor services, national parks were reporting high volumes of visitors after warnings from public health officials to stay home and avoid public gatherings.

On Twitter, Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said visitation soared, and caused “an issue as our trails and day-use areas were suddenly quite crowded. To be clear, this is unsafe, it increases the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”

Highways and roadways passing through Parks Canada places will remain open, however, parking along them is not permitted.

The federal decision comes on the heels of the Ontario government’s decision to close all provincial parks to the public from March 19 to April 30. This affects day-use areas, car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, and all public buildings.

According to the release, any person or group with a reservation for arrival up to April 30, 2020, will automatically receive a full refund with no penalty.

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