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 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 September 16th, 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|
|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 at full capacity||Maximum 100 people outdoors (household +15 persons cohort)||June 12th (stage 2)|
|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)|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Alert levels 1-4||New alert level systems for different regions based on cases, with some regions moving to increased restrictions (alert level 2), with more inspections and greater crowd control.||Maximum 250 people (3 household bubble)||September 8th|
|New Brunswick||1||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|
|2||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)|
|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 people outdoors (10 person bubble)||June 12-26th|
|4||Travel within Atlantic Canada permitted (Atlantic travel bubble). Social outdoor events at expanded capacity.||Maximum 250 people outdoors (10 person bubble)||July 3rd|
|Prince Edward Island||1-2||Reopening of recreational activities: golf courses, fishing, marinas, access to seasonal properties||Maximum 10 people outdoors||May 1st (phase 1)
May 22nd (phase 2)
|3-4||Organized recreational activities permitted: soccer, baseball, football, tennis, day camps
Reopening of recreational facilities: swimming pools, arenas, recreational and community centres, campgrounds (phase 4)
|Maximum personal gatherings of 20 people outdoors, or 50 people outdoors for organized gatherings||June 1st (phase 3), June 26th (phase 4)|
|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||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 organized sporting events being drafted.||Maximum 50 people outdoors (15 person social bubble), 100 people for organized gatherings||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|