Ontario Parks says overnight stays will remain off-limits in a temporary closure due to the provincial stay-at-home order and as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to soar.
In a notice posted on April 16, the provincial agency said overnight stays include campgrounds, backcountry campsites and roofed accommodations will be shuttered until further notice in order to help stop virus spread and support further restrictions.
“We understand this temporary closure of overnight stays in provincial parks may impact your plans, however, the health and well-being of Ontarians is our number one priority,” the notice read.
However, Ontarians are still able to visit provincial parks for the day, only.
Ontario Parks said it will remain open for “safe outdoor day-use activities” such as walking, hiking, biking, birdwatching and fishing at many provincial parks. It advised people to check individual park pages for day-use facilities and services available.
It also warns that many facilities will not yet be open for the season and to arrive at the park prepared with sanitizer, extra water, soap and other supplies.
The move comes as Ontario Parks said in March it had received an overwhelming number of users on the reservation system trying to book at one time and its website and call centre saw the highest volumes ever on any given day.
“We know how much people love to visit Ontario Parks as a way to spend time outdoors, get fresh air and stay healthy, but we continue to ask that, regardless of the area you are from, you only visit and enjoy a provincial park or conservation reserve close to home,” Ontario Parks said.
“Limiting your travel is essential in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19, staying safe and saving lives. Please do not travel outside of your area to visit.”
— With files from Global News’ Mark Giunta