The B.C. Government is closing all provincial parks in further response to the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread calls for increased action.

“Because physical distancing works, it is critical that we take every action needed to restrict the spread of COVID-19. This applies to British Columbians and out-of-province visitors who were planning to visit or stay at our provincial parks,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “The message is clear: stay home, avoid travel, do not put yourself or others at risk.”

The B.C. Ministry said the closure responds to both federal and provincial directives that people should be staying home to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

“I understand and share the love people in British Columbia have for the outdoors and the connection between health and proximity to nature. We tried to provide safe space for people to get some exercise and fresh air in our beautiful parks. But it has proven too challenging to maintain safe distance between visitors,” continued Heyman. “This action is difficult but necessary. We look forward to the day we can welcome people back to our wonderful parks.”

According to the Ministry, the decision to close the park system was informed after ongoing feedback from RCMP, First Nations, local governments, Search and Rescue organizations, and the general public.

“While many people are observing the physical distancing requirements set by the provincial health officer (PHO), some continue to ignore the order, making enforcement in a wilderness setting challenging,” said the B.C. Government in their announcement.

Along with the closure of all provincial parks, the ban on camping in provincial parks has also been extended until May 31, 2020. The extension falls in alignment with the temporary closure of Canada’s National Parks. BC Parks said refunds for bookings up to May 31st will be sent automatically.

As was previously announced, campgrounds and amenities were closed by the Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

More: BC Parks (B.C. Government)