GATINEAU, QC, March 17, 2020 /CNW/ - The health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and Parks Canada team members is of the utmost importance to the Agency. Parks Canada is following the advice of public health experts and taking steps to support the Government of Canada's efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce risks to visitors, employees, and other users of Parks Canada spaces.
Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020, Parks Canada is temporarily suspending all visitor services in all national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas across the country until further notice. The Agency will be monitoring the situation and will communicate regularly.
Parks Canada will limit its activities to basic critical operations and many staff will work from home. Visitor facilities will be closed temporarily, including washrooms and day use facilities. Some conservation activities will also be temporarily suspended, including projects with external researchers.
While visitor services are temporarily suspended, Parks Canada will continue to deliver a number of critical functions, including highway management and snow removal, fire response, dam operations and water management on historic waterways, as well as avalanche forecasting and control, among others.
Visitors may use front country and backcountry areas as well as accessible green spaces. Should Canadians decide to visit, they should remember that they are always responsible for their own safety. They should consult Parks Canada's website to be prepared for their visit and be aware of any area closures. Search and rescue services may be limited. Visitors should exercise additional caution at this time and avoid activities with safety risks.
There are a number of tourism businesses and operations within Parks Canada places. These operators are valued partners and provide important services to visitors. They may continue to operate and clients should check with them before visiting to ensure that there has been no change to their services.
Parks Canada will cease taking new reservations until April 30, 2020. All existing reservations for this period will be refunded in full. In addition, the Agency is currently developing an approach to honour passes, in light of travel restrictions and closures related to COVID-19. Details will be communicated in due course.
A complete list of Parks Canada places that are closed and the parameters of these closures will be available on the Parks Canada website soon. Please visit pc.gc.ca regularly for updates.
"At this critical time, our top priority remains the health and safety of Canadians. We are doing everything we can to contain the novel coronavirus and reduce the burden on our healthcare system. We all look forward to resuming normal operations at Parks Canada places, but for now we must follow the advice of public health experts and work together to limit the spread of COVID-19."
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
SOURCE Parks Canada
For further information: Moira Kelly, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 819-271-6218, [email protected]; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, [email protected]