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Coronavirus: Private campgrounds around Lethbridge still open despite public closures

Click to play video: 'Canadians known as snowbirds filling privately-owned campgrounds in southern Alberta' Canadians known as snowbirds filling privately-owned campgrounds in southern Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: Camping is a fun activity to partake in throughout the spring and summer. However, with COVID-19 closing down provincial and national parks, options in southern Alberta are now limited for campers. Eloise Therien reports. – Apr 10, 2020

Anyone in Alberta looking to camp this long weekend will have fewer options than normal.

READ MORE: Alberta provincial parks close parking during COVID-19 pandemic

Popular camping destinations operated by Alberta Parks or Parks Canada have been shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic in order to discourage gatherings and travel and to honour public health orders.

Despite this, some privately-owned campgrounds are staying open.

READ MORE: Privately owned campgrounds in Alberta remain open amid pandemic uncertainty

Bridgeview RV Resort and Campground in Lethbridge is open year-round, and managers say they have seen a spike in demand as campers return earlier than usual from the United States for the summer months.

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Husband and wife duo Kathy and Ron Regher manage Bridgeview, and say they are working very closely with Alberta Health Services to ensure they are doing everything they can to help keep their facility safe.

They consider their RV Resort essential for travellers who have no where else to turn.

“We’re happy to give [service] to people, and make sure that their needs are being met, especially at this time with COVID because they don’t have a set home space,” Kathy Reghersaid.

“Their RV is their home.”

READ MORE: Alberta golf courses deemed non-essential service: ‘It could be devastating for the industry’

In order to keep all visitors safe, they provide information packages to each camper, and are turning away anyone coming in from the U.S. who isn’t willing to stay quarantined for 14 days.

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Click to play video: 'Private Alberta campgrounds allowed to stay open during COVID-19 crisis' Private Alberta campgrounds allowed to stay open during COVID-19 crisis
Private Alberta campgrounds allowed to stay open during COVID-19 crisis – Apr 8, 2020

Those in their quarantine period aren’t allowed to exit their camper vehicles unless necessary for maintenance.

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“If they have to empty their sewer, they have to do that,” said Kathy. “If they’re filling their rig with water, they have to do that – but they have to get right back into their RV.”
The facility is staying below 50 per cent capacity, as recommended by AHS.
For essential products such as food, management has provided all campers with the office phone number for any necessities. They are doing grocery runs, propane runs, and dog walking through volunteers for those who shouldn’t be leaving their site.
The site has also closed all washroom and laundry facilities.
While Bridgeview is open all year, some seasonal campgrounds haven’t officially opened yet.
Click to play video: 'Calgary-area RV park opens early for quarantining snowbirds' Calgary-area RV park opens early for quarantining snowbirds
Calgary-area RV park opens early for quarantining snowbirds – Apr 5, 2020
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Glory Reimer, the owner of Creepy Hollow Campground in Warner, Alta., says she plans to only take on long-term campers who are self-sufficient.
“Currently our long-term site campers are allowed to come and go, but I’m not allowing it to be open to the public right now,” said Reimer.  She adds campers are responsible for their own water and dumping.
Creepy Hollow also offers a popular haunted house attraction each fall, bringing in many people from surrounding communities.  Reimer hopes life will be back to normal once the time comes to set up their attraction.
“Our whole purpose in life is our haunted house and scaring people,” she said.
As for camping, Reimer understands the need to keep safety procedures in place while COVID-19 remains top-of-mind.
Alberta Health Services has been exploring potential restrictions on recreational camping at private campgrounds, and further guidance is expected in the near future.

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