'Stay home': Alberta Health advises against camping on the long weekend
Alberta Health says new rules about camping at private campgrounds during the COVID-19 pandemic could be on the horizon. (File)
CALGARY -- With the long weekend still being a holiday in the province, many Albertans are eager to go somewhere, anywhere, to pass the time.
However, officials have sent a simple message to Albertans, the same one they've been emphasizing for weeks.
"We are asking all Albertans to not travel this weekend. Stay home. Stay in your community and your property," the province says.
Alberta Health says all provincial and federal campgrounds are closed as per the order from the chief medical officer of health, but private campgrounds remain open for the time being, provided they take appropriate steps to protect workers, volunteers and patrons from infection.
But that could change in the future.
"Alberta Health is exploring potential restrictions on recreational camping at private campgrounds or other similar locations and will be providing additional guidance in the near future."
Alberta Health Services (AHS) also says private and municipally-operated campgrounds are not required to close at this time, but are recommended to "follow the precedent set by Alberta Parks and the National Parks."
Only facilities that offer long-term accommodation for users (greater than four weeks) or where the site is the user's primary accommodation are being recommended to remain open, AHS says.
"Campgrounds that choose to remain open would be expected to implement strict control measures to prevent COVID spread."
Some examples could be:
- Restrict users to self-contained camping in RVs and travel trailers that possess an internal water supply, holding tanks and personal washroom facilities
- Close all shared washroom facilities including showers
- Limit campground capacity for purposes of social distancing
- Block off group camping areas
Campers will also need to be provided with appropriate information about COVID-19 prevention measures and precautions both at the gate during check-in and check-out and through the use of signage throughout the campgrounds.
B.C. leaders want Albertans to stay out
A number of B.C. politicians have also come forward to propose a temporary closure of the boundary between their province and Alberta as a way to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Thousands of Albertans traditionally drive into B.C. over long weekends. Along the way, they stop in a number of small communities like Kimberley, Fernie and Sparwood.
Leaders of communities in that province's East Kootenay district have since written to the B.C. Health Authority to drum up support for their proposal to seal off the boundary.
Those same leaders had already voted unanimously to close the border.
Essential and non-essential travel
The province of Alberta is requesting everyone to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out to complete certain tasks such as picking up groceries and medications.
"All other travel is non-essential. This long weekend, we need Albertans to continue to stay at home, practice physical distancing and follow all of the public health measures we've recommended.
"This is the best way to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health of our friends and family."