Ontario to start allowing backcountry camping as COVID-19 restrictions ease

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TORONTO — Ontario will begin allowing campers to return to provincial parks on Monday.

The province says backcountry camping will resume under physical distancing measures that limit the number of people who gather.

No more than five people will be allowed to occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household.

The reopening measures include access to paddle and portage routes, as well as hiking trails.

Ontario’s provincial parks will also expand permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Overnight camping sites will remain closed, however, until at least June 14, as will park stores, roofed accommodations, playgrounds and beaches.

“We are all eager to get outside this time of year, and backcountry camping will give people a low-risk way to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors while following physical distancing rules,” Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said in a statement.

Ontario’s parks and conservation areas were closed early in the COVID-19 pandemic but reopened for use in the daytime earlier this month.

The expanded reopenings come as the province announces plans to allow drive-in movie theatres and batting cages to reopen on Sunday.