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Private campgrounds in Nova Scotia can open Friday with certain restrictions

N.S. campgrounds preparing for busy summer
WATCH: More Nova Scotians will soon be camping, with warmer weather and restrictions ending. That's good news for campgrounds and for businesses offering the opportunity to get outside and still stay isolated. Jesse Thomas has more.

Nova Scotians will soon be able to pitch a tent or park an RV at campsites across the province.

Beginning Friday, June 5, the province will allow private campsites to operate at 50 per cent capacity, which is not only good news for those looking to get outside but also for local businesses.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of emergency still in place in Nova Scotia, Christine Idy and her family, who own and operate the Halifax West KOA campground, weren’t sure what the summer camping season would look like.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia restaurants, gyms, spas permitted to reopen June 5

For the past month or so they’ve been mostly taking cancellations but that’s beginning to change.

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“We have a lot of Americans coming up and with the borders being closed they are canceling because of the unknown and some people were just nervous,” said Idy.

Come Friday, private campgrounds will be able to open with certain restrictions in place, after the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, announced loosening of restrictions around public gatherings last week.

Many businesses shut down temporarily by the pandemic will be allowed to reopen, while groups cannot gather in crowds bigger than 10 people.

“Since they (the province) announced it, the phone has been ringing off the hook,” said Idy.

Idy says people have been self-isolating so long, many just want to get outside in the outdoors. In a way, camping, a secluded activity, is perfect for a pandemic, she said.

“From the feedback we’re getting, the people feel confident and safe because they are coming in self-contained units (RV’s and trailers,” said Idy.

“At this point, we are not allowed to rent cabins or cottages on our premises.”

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RV sales at Fraserway RV in Bedford are up during the pandemic says general manager Robb Cusack, and they are getting a lot of calls as well for rentals, from Nova Scotians looking to plan staycations.

“It’s all about the staycation,”  said Cusack.

“Everybody seems to want to get away and get out to the great outdoors. That’s what our business is really about.”

READ MORE: Canadian snowbird grateful Nova Scotia campgrounds open for seasonal guests

The majority of RV rentals are usually scooped up by travellers from overseas, says Cusack, so he was concerned how business would fare during the pandemic.

“You know our whole sales cycle, everything has been altered and it has shifted, but we’ve managed to do OK and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

All provincial campgrounds will open on June 15th at reduced capacity, with online bookings being accepted June 8th.

Playgrounds or public facilities will remain closed at all campgrounds until the public health restrictions are lifted.