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Manitoba provincial parks to open for camping with new COVID-19 protocols

A tent in a park. File/Parks Canada

The Manitoba government will allow provincial campground bookings to begin next week with some changes as the province adjusts to the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes after the province announced some non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen May 4.

There will still be a strict ban on gatherings of more than 10 people in line with current public health protocols, and provincial parks staff will monitor to make sure those rules are followed, particularly in public spaces like beaches and recreation areas, the province said.

Campers and other visitors will have to wear water shoes or sandals in showers and bring their own toilet paper, soap and hand sanitizer. The province also urges visitors to fill their gas tanks and avoid using local health care services in the area they travel to unless its an emergency.

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The province will also clean and sanitize bathrooms and shower facilities more frequently.

The province doesn’t plan on hiring more park staff at this point. Rather, the new enforcement duties will be rolled into staff members’ existing duties, Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard said during a conference call with reporters Friday.

Provincial conservation officers will be able to issue fines if public health protocols aren’t followed despite warnings, Guillemard said.

“We have put a focus on the educational aspect, so most people will be reminded of what’s required of them,” she said, adding that conservation officers will be able to use their discretion on a case-by-case basis.

READ MORE: What’s open in Manitoba amid the coronavirus pandemic

The province will put up signage to remind campers and provincial park visitors about public health protocols.

“We’re still following the health advice that it will be households who camp together,” Guillemard said when asked who can camp with whom. “We’re not looking at having neighbouring campsites getting together for bonfires.”

At this point, no provincial park facilities will be closed, and the province is not limiting the number of campsites that can be booked at any given time.

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Meanwhile, Riding Mountain National Park will remain closed — including camping — until at least May 31, the park said in a Friday news release.

READ MORE: Northern travel restrictions due to coronavirus frustrating but necessary — The Pas, Man., mayor

The province will also enhance cleaning and sanitation at bathroom and shower facilities in provincial parks.

Manitobans who live south of the 53rd parallel — around the northern tip of Lake Winnipeg — will still not be allowed to enter the north, including to visit provincial parks, Guillemard said.

People who live in the north are still able to travel freely within their region.

Bookings at 12 campsites — Winnipeg Beach, Betula Lake, Big Whiteshell, Brereton Lake, Caddy Lake, Falcon Beach, Falcon Lakeshore, Nutimik Lake, Opapiskaw, Otter Falls, West Hawk Lake and White Lake campgrounds — will start May 4 at 7 a.m.

Bookings at the remaining provincial campgrounds will start May 6 at 7 a.m.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba announces gradual reopening of non-essential businesses, non-urgent medical procedures, outdoor spaces' Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba announces gradual reopening of non-essential businesses, non-urgent medical procedures, outdoor spaces
Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba announces gradual reopening of non-essential businesses, non-urgent medical procedures, outdoor spaces – Apr 29, 2020

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