Many have struggled to access the outdoors, parks, and nature as a result of physical distancing regulations instituted across the country in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak. Though most Provincial and National parks have reopened, services are limited. At the municipal level, restrictions are being lifted on parks but certain elements, such as play structures and exercise equipment remain closed in many cities to reduce the spread of the virus. For a visual map of up-to-date restrictions and how they vary across the country, including access to parks and trails, check out this excellent resource by the Canadian Urban Institute.
Outdoor Play Canada’s statement on outdoor play during the COVID-19 outbreak highlighted that getting outdoors while adhering to public health guidance (e.g., physical distancing, careful and regular hand-washing) is important to maintain a strong immune system and is one of the best ways Canadians can increase their defence against COVID-19.
Outdoor Play Canada also highlighted that many cities have found innovative ways to facilitate getting outdoors safely and counteract restrictions on access to parks by converting roads to local or foot-traffic only and expanding cycling lanes.
As Canada began to ease restrictions, Saskatchewan led the way with its 5-phase plan. In the first phase of this plan (which began on May 4, 2020), the province reopened low-risk outdoor recreational spaces including fishing and boat launches, golfing (with physical distancing), and set a date (June 1st) and clear guidelines for the operation of parks and campgrounds.
We will update the table below on easing (and tightening) restrictions to accessing the outdoors and outdoor activities as different parts of Canada release their plans (updated as of March 31st, 2021).
|Province||Phase||Plan||Public Gathering Restrictions||Dates|
|British Columbia||1-2||Reopening of parks, recreation sites (beaches, outdoor spaces), and trails that can accommodate physical distancing for day use only.||Maximum 6 people||May 14th|
|3||Reopening of overnight camping, with capacity limits on change rooms, washrooms||Maximum 6 people (June 1st), household + 6 people (Oct 30th)||June 1st|
|New order||New limits on social gatherings in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions. Walking outdoors is still encouraged provided it does not turn into a group of people meeting outside. Outdoor sports still permitted.||Socialize only with those in your core bubble (those you spend the most time with and are physically close to)||November 7th|
|Province-wide restrictions||Walking outdoors is still encouraged provided it does not turn into a group of people meeting outside. Adult and youth sports and fitness activities under specific guidance, outdoor holiday events suspended, public skating permitted.||Socialize only with those in your household or core bubble (max 2 other people outside your household if you live alone)||December 3rd|
|New PHO order||Walking outdoors is still encouraged. Public skating rinks, public pools can continue to operate with a COVID-19 safety plan in place. Structured extracurricular activities and programs for children or youth under 21 yrs can continue to operate with a COVID-19 safety plan in place.||Maximum 10 people outdoors with physical distancing (March 15th)||March 15th, 2021|
|Alberta||1||Reopening of vehicle access to public land and parks, access to boat launches in provincial parks, golf courses. Dog parks, playgrounds, and day camps open (subject to municipal restrictions). Reopening of select campgrounds, summer camps (limited occupancy)||Maximum 50 people outdoors (single household bubble)||May 1-14th, June 1st (campgrounds and camps)|
|2-3||Pools, recreation centres and arenas, team sports, provincial campgrounds open at full capacity||Maximum 100 people outdoors (household +15 persons cohort)||June 12th (stage 2)|
|New Zones||Calgary and Edmonton Zone: Residents and visitors of Calgary and Edmonton and surrounding areas under new gathering restrictions. Socializing outdoors (instead of indoors) is encouraged.
New Zone restrictions extended to Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, and Red Deer (Nov 13th).
|Maximum 15 person gatherings (household +school + one other social/sport cohort)||October 8th (Edmonton Zone), October 26th (Calgary Zone)|
|Province-wide restrictions||Outdoor festivals and events prohibited. Additional measures in place for communities on the enhanced status list (purple zones).||Maximum 10 person outdoor gatherings with physical distancing||November 24th|
|Stronger public health restrictions||Outdoor recreation (skating, sledding, nordic skiing) is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms are closed. Outdoor group physical activity, where 2 metre distancing cannot be maintained, are prohibited.||Socialize only with those in your household or core bubble (max 2 other people outside your household if you live alone)
Increased to 10 person outdoor gatherings with physical distancing (Jan 18th)
|December 8th, January 18th|
|The Path Forward restrictions plan||Public health restrictions eased in 4 steps according to hospitalization benchmarks. Among restrictions eased, those relating to the outdoors include:
Step 1: Children’s sport and performance activities open
Step 2: Further easing of children’s sport and performance
Step 3: Easing of restrictions on adult team sports
Step 4: Easing restrictions on outdoor festivals, sporting events, day and overnight camps
|Socialize only with those in your household or core bubble (max 2 other people outside your household if you live alone)
10 person outdoor gatherings with physical distancing
|Saskatchewan||1||Reopening of low-risk outdoor recreational spaces: fishing and boat launches, golfing (with physical distancing), operation of parks and campgrounds.||Maximum 10 people
June 1st (parks & campgrounds)
|2||Reopening of retail including sporting good/adventure stores.||Maximum 10 people
|3-4||Reopening of outdoor recreational spaces, child and youth day camps, outdoor pools, outdoor sports (Phase 4).||Maximum 30 people outdoors||June 22nd (phase 4)|
|Mitigation Measures||New gathering restrictions in place. All team/group sports, activities, games, competitions, recitals, practices, etc. are suspended (Nov 27th).
Specific Sport and Physical Activity Guidelines in place.
|15 person extended household bubble (Nov 6th)
Reduced to 5 person bubble. Maximum 30 person outdoor gatherings (physically distanced; Nov 19th)
Maximum 10 people outdoors (with physical distancing between households; December 19th)
|November 6th, 19th, 27th, December 19th|
|Manitoba||1||Outdoor recreation (playgrounds, golf courses, tennis courts, marinas) beaches (one household per group) and campgrounds open. Day camps open (max 16 children per site)||Maximum 10 people (single household bubble)||May 4th|
|2||Team sports for children and adults restored (tournaments not permitted). Day camps open (max 24 children per site). Outdoor recreation facilities may operate at normal capacity (with physical distancing between groups). Travel to northern parks permitted. Pools open.||Maximum 50 people outdoors (single household bubble)||June 1st|
|3||Day camps expanded to 50 children per site. Travel to northern parks permitted by Western Canadians.||Maximum 100 people outdoors||June 21st|
|4||Stage performances reopening at 30% capacity or 500 people, whichever is lower.||Maximum 100 people outdoors||July 25th|
|New Levels||Orange level: New gathering restrictions
Red level: New gathering restrictions and all indoor and outdoor sport facilities closed.
|Orange level: 5 people + household
Red level: Maximum 5 people
|Beginning September 28th|
|Province-wide restrictions||Outdoor physical activities for individuals and immediate households, including skating, tobogganing and skiing, are allowed. Stay physically distant from those not within your household.
Playgrounds and winter recreation areas in Provincial parks closed on November 10th and reopened December 15th. Provincial park offices closed.
Organized practices, games and competitions at outdoor sporting facilities permitted, but no multi-team tournaments are permitted (March 12).
|No social bubble, with exceptions for those who live alone. Maximum 5 person outdoor gatherings (physically distanced).
Increased to 2 people may visit a household, 5 person outdoor gatherings (physically distanced; February 12th), updated to 10 person outdoor gatherings (March 12, 2021)
|Beginning November 20th, February 12th, March 12th|
|Ontario||1||Provincial parks and Conservation Reserves open for limited (walking, hiking, biking, bird-watching only) day-use.
Outdoor recreational facilities (marinas, golf courses, outdoor tennis courts, cycling tracks, horse riding facilities) open.
Non-team sport competitions that can be played under physical distancing measures (water sports, low-contact racquet sports, track and field, rock climbing, horse racing) are reopening.
|Maximum 5 people||May 11-15th (parks)
May 19th (outdoor recreational facilities, non-team sport competitions)
|2||Opening of more community and outdoor spaces, including pools, outdoor recreational facilities (paintball, mini golf, archery ranges, go-cart tracks), outdoor training for team sports, beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks||Maximum 10 people||June 12th-22nd|
|3||Live shows, concerts reopening with physical distancing and gathering limits in place. Outdoor playgrounds and play structures reopening. Reopening of amateur and recreational sports leagues provided physical contact is limited.||Maximum 100 people outdoors (10 person bubble)||Beginning July 17th|
|2 (modified)||New gathering restrictions implemented in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York: stay 2m apart from anyone you do not live with. Team sports closed (October 10th).||Maximum 25 people outdoors (Sept 19th), no bubble (Oct 2nd)||Beginning September 19th|
|Green: Team and individual sports modified to avoid physical contact, 100 person recreational classes outside permitted.
Yellow: Team and individual sports modified to avoid physical contact, 25 person recreational classes outside permitted.
Orange: Team and individual sports modified to avoid physical contact, 25 person recreational classes outside permitted.
Red: Team sports closed except for training, 25 person outdoor fitness classes permitted.
Grey: All indoor sports activities closed. Outdoor recreational amenities (skating rinks, parks, trails) open with restrictions. Wearing a mask outdoors is recommended if you cannot be physically distant from others.
Province-wide State of Emergency (effective Jan 12th-Feb 15th): Downhill skiing, golf courses and outdoor driving ranges closed to the public. Cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and dog sledding open, as long as they follow public health requirements.
|Green to Red: No bubble (avoid close contact with anyone outside your household), maximum 25 people outdoors.
Grey: No bubble (avoid close contact with anyone outside your household), maximum 10 people outdoors, physically distanced (Feb 15th).
|Beginning November 7th, updated Jan 13th, Feb 15th|
|Quebec||1-3||Some National Parks are reopening for day-use only including hiking, biking, and fishing.
Opening of non-organized leisure activities (canoeing, kayaking, kitesurfing, paddleboarding, outdoor horseback riding)
Opening of non-organized outdoor recreational sports activities carried out individually or in pairs without physical contact (track and field, rowing (singles), speed canoeing and kayaking, golf, tennis (singles), open water swimming, triathlon, sailing (single rider)
|Maximum 10 people, maximum 3 households (single household bubble)||May 20th|
|4-5||Reopening of overnight camping||Maximum 10 people, maximum 3 households (single household bubble)||June 1st|
|6||Reopening of outdoor swimming pools, outdoor exercise equipment and play structures, outdoor team sports (combat activities restricted to training only) and open air activities, day camps||Maximum 50 people (3 household bubble)||June 8th (pools, equipment), June 22nd (day camps), June 30th (sports)|
|7||Matches in combat sports may resume in accordance with recommendations from public health authorities.||Maximum 250 people (3 household bubble)||September 2nd|
|New Alert Levels||Level 1-2: Maximum 250 people for outdoor organized activities (with physical distancing)
Level 3-4: Maximum 25 people for outdoor organized activities. Interregional travel for sport not recommended
Level 4: Sports and recreational activities (skiing, ski lessons, snowshoeing, skating, free hockey, etc.), including activities, lessons and guided workouts, are permitted outside in public places for single people, in duo, as a family or in a group of up to eight people. These activities must be carried out with respect for social distancing.
|Level 1-2: 10 person gatherings
Level 3: 6 person gatherings
Level 4: No private gatherings outdoors, with exception for those living alone (1 other person permitted)
|September 8th, September 30th (alert level 3-4 introduced)|
|New Holiday Guidelines||Outdoor group sports and recreational activities permitted in groups up to 8 people, with physical distancing.||Red zone: no indoor or outdoor private gatherings, those living alone may join one household.||December 17th – January 10th|
|Containment of Quebec||Curfew in orange zone: Between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., residents are prohibited from being outside their home except for essential reasons.
Curfew in red zone: Between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., residents are prohibited from being outside their home except for essential reasons (updated from 8 to 9:30pm on March 17th).
Outdoor leisure and sports activities carried out in free practice in accordance with health instructions are authorized (eg: walking, cross-country skiing, skating).
|Orange and Red Zones: No indoor or outdoor private gatherings, those living alone may join one household.||January 9th, March 17th|
|New Brunswick||Orange Level||Reopening of parks, beaches, marinas, golf courses, outdoor tennis courts, and driving ranges, as well as access to recreational fishing and hunting. Reopening of campgrounds (day-use only) and outdoor recreational activities including day camps.||Maximum 10 people (two household bubble)||April 24th|
|Yellow Level||Low-contact team sports can be played, reopening of swimming pools and water parks, reopening of overnight camps, organized sports, recreational facilities||Maximum 50 people outdoors (family and friends bubble)||May 29th, June 19th (camps)|
|Modified Levels|| Yellow: Limit groups to a consistent list of friends and family. Sports and recreational activities permitted subject to conditions on gatherings (max 50 ppl outdoors) and approval of a plan.
Orange: Low-risk recreational activities permitted, sports activities limited to practices/drills within a single team.
Red: Organized sports and recreation facilities closed. Parks open.
Lockdown: Outdoor activities with members of your bubble permitted (i.e. snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing). Walking trails open. Skating rinks, downhill skiing closed. Groomed trails closed.
|Yellow: Close friends and family (‘Steady 15’). Maximum outdoor gatherings of 50 people, physically distanced
Orange: ‘Steady 10‘, 10 person bubble (in addition to your household; Feb 5), outdoor gatherings with your Steady 10 only.
Red: Single household bubble, with exception for those living alone (1 other person permitted). Maximum outdoor gatherings of 5 people, physically distanced.
Lockdown: Single household bubble, with exception for those living alone (1 other person permitted). No outdoor gatherings.
|Starting October 9th, updated November 20th, January 23rd, February 5th|
|Nova Scotia||1||Trails, provincial and municipal parks open.
Reopening of driving ranges, sportfishing, and access to boating, yacht, or sailing clubs for preparing boats for use.
|Only with those in the same household||May 1st|
|2||Reopening of public beaches, golf courses, outdoor sports facilities (e.g. horse riding, paddling, sailing/boating, tennis)||Maximum 10 people||May 15-29th|
|3||Private campgrounds operating at 100% capacity, provincial campgrounds open at reduced capacity, outdoor sports facilities and playgrounds open, summer day camps open (10 people per camp group), public pools open||Maximum 50 person outdoor gatherings, physically distanced (10 person bubble)||June 12-26th|
|4||Travel within Atlantic Canada permitted (Atlantic travel bubble). Social outdoor events at expanded capacity.||Maximum 250 person outdoor gatherings, physically distanced (10 person bubble)||July 3rd|
|5||Sport participation gathering expanded to 50 people||Maximum 250 person outdoor gatherings, physically distanced (50 person sport/arts bubble)||Oct 1st|
|New Regional Restrictions||Halifax and Hants County restrictions: Organized sports not permitted until December 21st.||Maximum 10 person bubble (Halifax and Hants County).||November 26th, December 21st|
|Nova Scotia-wide guidelines||In-person organized sports events not permitted (Dec 22nd).
Updated to organized sporting events, festivals, activities permitted up to 150 people outdoors (with physical distancing; Feb 8th). Outdoor physical activities permitted with physical distancing.
|Maximum 10 person bubble.||December 22nd, February 8th|
|Prince Edward Island||1||Reopening of recreational activities: golf courses, fishing, marinas, access to seasonal properties||Maximum 10 people outdoors||May 1st – 22nd|
|2||Organized recreational activities permitted: soccer, baseball, football, tennis, day camps
Reopening of recreational facilities: swimming pools, arenas, recreational and community centres, campgrounds. Consultation with national and provincial bodies is advised.
|Maximum personal gatherings of 20 people outdoors||June 1st – 26th|
|New Normal||Sports: Sport and recreation open based on risk and with precautions in place. Overnight camps, public spaces open.
(Atlantic bubble suspended as of Nov 24th)
|Keep household circle small, use discretion with friends and family.||Oct 1st
|Post Circuit Breaker Holiday Measures||Organized recreation and team sports permitted up to 50 people (with an operational plan), with enhanced attention to records for contact tracing||Maximum 10 person gatherings, with physical distancing||January 6th|
|Updated Post Circuit Breaker Measures||Organized recreation and team sports permitted following organized gathering limits (with an operational plan), with enhanced attention to records for contact tracing.||Maximum 10 person private gatherings, 50-person organized gathering outdoors||March 13, 2021|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||4||Golf courses, hunting, fishing, municipal parks open||2 household bubble||May 11th|
|3||Overnight camping permitted with restrictions, summer camps to open, medium-risk outdoor recreational activities (i.e. team field sports) to resume, outdoor pools to reopen (limited number of people)||2 household + 6 people bubble||June 8th|
|2||Tent camping open, outdoor playground equipment accessible for use, arenas open
Holiday events and gatherings guideline introduced (November 12th)
|Maximum 50 people outdoors (2 households + 6 people bubble) U||June 25th|
|5||Reverting to Level 5: Outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, or snowshoeing, are encouraged as long as physical distancing can be maintained between household bubbles||Single household bubble, single persons may join another household. All outdoor gatherings limited to the same household||February 15th, 2021|
|2-4||Updates to Levels:
Level 2: Outdoor playgrounds and equipment can be used. Outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, or riding a bike, are encouraged as long as physical distancing can be maintained between bubbles. Group and team sport and recreation activities are permitted, in accordance with guidelines.
Level 3, 4: Outdoor playgrounds and equipment can be used. Outdoor activities encouraged as long as physical distancing can be maintained between bubbles. Group and team sport, recreation activities suspended.
|Level 2 Steady 20: Private gatherings limited to 20 people. Outdoor gatherings limited to 50 people with physical distancing.
Level 3 Tight 10: private gatherings limited to 10 people. Outdoor gatherings limited to 20 people with physical distancing.
Level 4: Gathering limited to household bubble.
|March 13th, 2021|
|Yukon||1||Territorial parks and campgrounds reopening, sites will be serviced. Recreation centres reopening.||Maximum 10 people (2 household bubble)||June 4th|
|2||Reopening of overnight summer camps for children||Maximum 50 people outdoors (2 household bubble)||July 1st|
|3||Guidelines for sports and recreation available.||Maximum 50 people outdoors (15 person social bubble).||August 1st|
|North West Territories||Territorial park trails remained open for day-use only, without services.||Maximum 10 people outdoors (single household bubble)||April 10th|
|1-2||Municipal parks, beaches, boat launches, playgrounds, overnight camping (phase 2) reopened. Organized outdoor activities (baseball, softball, cricket, golf, soccer, ultimate frisbee) permitted (phase 2).||Maximum 25 people outdoors (phase 1), 50 people outdoors (10 person bubble) (phase 2).
Reduced to fave-five: 5 person bubble (December 21st), 50 people outdoors with physical distancing.
|Phase 1: May 15th
Phase 2: June 12th, December 21st
|3||Reopening of pools, outdoor tourism, outdoor community festivals.||No limits outdoors||TBD|
|Nunavut||1||Reopening of territorial parks (no indoor services), municipal playgrounds, outdoor day camps, pools||Maximum 25 people outdoors||June 15th|
|2||Continued opening of above outdoor recreation||Maximum 50 people outdoors||June 29th|
|3||Parks and park buildings open.||Maximum 100 people outdoors||October 5th|
|New measures||New restrictions in Baffin and Kitikmeot Region, Sanikiluaq, Rankin Inlet, Kivalliq region
All public playgrounds, municipal parks, territorial parks, and territorial park reserves must close.
|Maximum 5 people outdoors||November 18th|
|New measures||Territorial parks, and territorial park reserves closed in Arviat and Whale Cove until Jan 12th (re-closed in Arviat from January 27th – March 10th).
|Baffin, Kitikmeot, Chesterfield Inlet, Bake Lake, Coral Harbour, Naujaat, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove: 100 people outdoors with physical distancing
Arviat: 25 people outdoors with physical distancing (March 10th)
|December 2nd, 28th, Jan 12th, Jan 27th, February 5th, March 10th|