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Alberta’s campgrounds will open next month with 50% occupancy, no out-of-province campers

Online reservation system will reopen on May 14

CBC News · Posted: May 05, 2020 8:04 AM MT | Last Updated: May 5

Alberta’s summer camping season has been delayed and restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Wallis Snowdon/CBC)

The good news? Albertans will have a monopoly on provincial park campsites when the season reopens in June.

The bad news is that there will be half as many spots, you may get bumped from the perfect site that you’ve prebooked — and you still can’t have a campfire.

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, Alberta Parks campgrounds will operate at 50 per cent occupancy to start the 2020 season, parks officials said in an email Monday.

Due to ongoing travel restrictions, sites will only be available to Albertans, and all existing reservations made by out-of-province campers will be cancelled.

In parks that have been already booked beyond the 50 per cent occupancy limit, reservations will be cancelled by random selection, said the email.

The restrictions will encourage physical distancing and reduce the number of campers using trails and shared facilities, parks officials said.   

June 1 opening date 

“Alberta Parks continues to assess COVID-19 impacts to the summer camping season,” reads an email from parks management.

“We are working hard to make our campsites available as soon as possible. We hope to open as many as possible by June 1 so Albertans can enjoy our parks while adhering to current public health orders.

“We anticipate opening more campsites on June 15 as we get more staff in place with the proper protective gear.” 

Group camping areas and comfort camping sites, including yurts and cabins, will not be offered this season.

The reservation site will relaunch on May 14, accepting bookings for June 1 onward at select campgrounds. A list of those campgrounds will be posted online on May 13.

Before cancellations are done, any reservations that can be moved to an alternate campsite will be moved. Customers will be notified of their new site number by email. If campers wish to cancel, a full refund — including reservation fees — will be issued.

Not only will campgrounds will be emptier than usual, another time-honoured camping ritual will also be prohibited.

A sweeping fire ban, intended to reduce the risk of forest fires during the pandemic, is in place in provincial parks and in Alberta’s Forest Protection Area — meaning campfires will be a no-go until further notice.

“We apologize if this impacts your summer plans and thank you for your understanding as we navigate this situation,” reads the email to campers. 

Canada closed its national parks to visitors on March 25 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Highways through national parks have remained open but all parking facilities and associated services for visitors — including washrooms, day-use areas, visitor centres, and mooring — are closed until further notice.

All national park reservations up to May 31 have been automatically cancelled and Parks Canada won’t be taking any new reservations until at least June 1. 

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