Without providing a timeline, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday the province is looking at ways to reopen provincial parks in British Columbia.
During her daily COVID-19 press conference Saturday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said all provincial parks in B.C. were closed earlier this month due to concerns over physical distancing and park facility use, among other concerns.
“Really a lot of it as well has to do with our forest fire risk and the flooding risk that we're seeing now, and being able to balance the need to respond to the many different concerns around parks,” she said.
Despite these closures, along with the closure of all B.C. recreation sites with camping facilities, Dr. Henry has consistently touted the mental and physical benefits of getting outside during the pandemic, and many city and regional parks across B.C. have remained open.
Responding to a question about how the closure of provincial parks lines up with her encouragement to get outside, Dr. Henry said she's hoping to be able to reopen the parks at some future date.
“We are looking at how we can open up the parks in a safe way as we start to transition to our new normal, and we're also talking with the federal government around federal parks and how they can be managed in a safe way for the future,” she said.
Despite B.C. seeing its largest jump ever in confirmed COVID-19 cases Saturday, Dr. Henry said this doesn't necessarily push back the province's plans to begin removing some COVID-19 restrictions in May and into the summer.
“It is very much dependant on decreasing the number of new cases and new outbreaks ... For example, the 40 cases related to Mission, doesn't change our assessment of where we are in terms of the pandemic trajectory in B.C., so we do take those things into account,” said Dr. Henry, referring to the large number of new cases coming from the outbreak at the Mission Institution correctional facility.
“We still want to see a decrease in cases. We've been sort of grumbling along at a certain level for the last few weeks, which is not surprising since we didn't see explosive growth at the beginning.”
While B.C. has so far avoided a large spike in COVID-19 cases seen in other jurisdictions, Dr. Henry has not provided any dates when some restrictions may start being lifted.