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 restrictions to accessing the outdoors and outdoor activities as different parts of Canada release their plans (updated as of November 25th, 2020).
|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. Sport games, competitions and practices can continue without spectators. Skiing and snowboarding permitted at local mountains.||Socialize only with those in your household or core bubble (max 2 other people outside your household if you live alone)||November 24th|
|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|
|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.||15 person extended household bubble (Nov 6th)
Reduced to 5 person bubble. Maximum 30 person outdoor gatherings (physically distanced; Nov 19th)
|November 6th, 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 events not permitted. Sports facilities closed.||No social bubble, with exceptions for those who live alone. Maximum 5 person outdoor gatherings (physically distanced).||Beginning November 20th|
|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|
|New framework||Green: Team sports modified to avoid physical contact, 100 person recreational classes outside permitted.
Yellow: Contact information required for team sports participation, 25 person recreational classes outside permitted.
Orange: Screening required for team sports participation, 25 person recreational classes outside permitted.
Red: Team sports closed except for training, 25-person outdoor fitness classes permitted.
Grey: Outdoor sports, recreational fitness activities closed, outdoor recreational amenities (e.g. ice rinks, ski hills, campgrounds, golf courses) open with restrictions.
|Green to Red: Maximum 25 people outdoors, no bubble (avoid close contact with anyone outside your household)
Grey: Maximum 10 people outdoors, physically distanced.
|Beginning November 7th|
|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: No organized sports, leisure activities
|Level 1-2: 10 person gatherings
Level 3: 6 person gatherings
Level 4: No gatherings, with exception for those living alone (1 other person permitted)
|September 8th, September 30th (alert level 3-4 introduced)|
|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 within a single team.
Red: Organized sports and recreation: facilities closed, but activities permitted with your bubble. Parks open.
|Yellow: Close friends and family. Maximum outdoor gatherings of 50 people, physically distanced
Orange: Single household bubble, Maximum outdoor gatherings of 25 people, physically distanced
Red: Single household bubble, with exception for those living alone (1 other person permitted). Maximum outdoor gatherings of 5 people, physically distanced
|Starting October 9th, updated November 20th|
|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.||Maximum 5 person bubble (Halifax and Hants County), maximum 5 person outdoor gatherings, physically distanced||November 26th|
|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
|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, playground equipment accessible for use, arenas open
Holiday events and gatherings guideline introduced (November 12th)
|Maximum 50 people outdoors (2 households + 6 people bubble)||June 25th|
|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. Guidelines for organized sporting events being drafted.||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)||Phase 1: May 15th
Phase 2: June 12th
|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|