As sunny spring weather across B.C. attracts more people outside, the province has no plans to restrict access to outdoor areas due to the COVID-19 virus.
During the daily COVID-19 update Tuesday (April 21), Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she won't restrict access to high-traffic parks and beaches in the province, despite concerns from some that adequate physical distancing is not being practiced in some areas.
“I do believe, and I've said this repeatedly, how important it is for us to have access to outdoor areas, particularly in urban areas where people being cooped up inside can lead to a lot of other anxiety and challenges and problems, including mental health problems,” said Dr. Henry.
Despite the closure of all BC Parks and Recreation Sites in the province, most regional and city parks remain open.
“What we need to do is, if we're having challenges in certain parks, in certain areas, we need to look at with our municipal planners, with the bylaw officers, look at how we make it so it's easier to maintain those physical distances,” Dr. Henry said.
Examples of these measures include making some trails one-way only, to prevent people walking by each other shoulder-to-shoulder, and restricting vehicle access in some parks, which would allow more room on roads for those walking and biking.
With B.C. successfully “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks, the province will be looking at easing some restrictions heading into the summer, if these trends continue. But maintaining adequate physical distancing looks like it will be here to stay for some time, perhaps until a vaccine is found.
“We need to look at how do we increase our ability to be outside in a safe way over the coming months,” Dr. Henry said.
- with files from Nicholas Johansen, Castanet