Automobile access is temporarily suspended at access points to all provincial parks and recreation areas to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. They are the same restrictions put in place at national parks earlier this week.
Yesterday, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) minister Jason Nixon announced the restrictions. The gates quickly closed at such popular destinations as the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, eight km east of Cochrane.
Last weekend revealed a disturbing trend of people not exercising physical distancing, and leaving behind garbage and human waste in some provincial parks, says Nixon.
"Now is not the time to drive to visit our provincial parks or public land for recreational purposes," says Nixon. "To be clear, if a car is required to access a park, do not go."
Albertans who choose to access the province’s parks and recreation areas should follow the advice of government health experts on physical distancing and public gatherings.
The restrictions do not apply to forestry or oil and gas operations.
Access for First Nations and identified Metis Harvesters is still permitted, and require the same physical distancing and mass gathering restrictions.
Enforcement officers will be doing routine checks in provincial parks and on public land to support education and awareness on the temporary closure. Officers can issue fines for noncompliance if required.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has advised that parks' facilities, like washrooms, can only remain open if parks staff have access to personal protective gear for cleaning. These scarce resources are needed in Alberta’s health-care and social services front lines, which is why facilities will remain closed, and access restricted to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Alberta Parks facilities, including toilets and picnic and warm-up shelters, have been closed for more than a week to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. No staff is currently supporting facility operations, so visitor safety cannot be ensured.
Online reservations for comfort, backcountry and individual campsites for the summer season can still be booked at Reserve.AlbertaParks.ca.
AEP continues to assess COVID-19 impacts on the summer camping season.
The Kananaskis Country public safety team is asking for cooperation from Kananaskis backcountry users.
Backcountry use has the potential to add unnecessary stress to the health care system and put public safety staff at risk, including exposure to COVID-19. It could impact resources to support search and rescue.
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