Social distancing in the wild might not be in the forecast for the weekend. On Wednesday, April 8, the government of British Columbia announced that it's closing down all provincial parks to limit the spread of COVID-19. The closure of B.C. provincial parks will be effective immediately. 

The official announcement said that the closures are in response to the social distancing guidelines issued by both the provincial and the federal governments.

People have been told to stay home as much as possible, which means they probably shouldn't be heading to the provincial parks, anyway. 

According to the announcement, the parks will be closed until further notice. George Heyman, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said that the province needs to take every action possible to contain the spread of the pandemic. 

This latest measure would stop both British Columbians and out-of-province visitors who may have been planning to explore or stay at any of our provincial parks. 

"The message is clear: stay home, avoid travel, do not put yourself or others at risk," he added. 

He said that he understands the deep love we locals have for the outdoors and our natural surroundings. And honestly, who wouldn't when the sights are so stunning? Regardless, we better get used to the scenery inside our homes for now. 

The province has tried its best to provide a safe space where people can get some exercise and fresh air but Heyman admits that it's been difficult to get people to maintain the recommended amount of physical distancing. 

The officials say that we have to make sure that we are at least two meters away from the nearest person in public. The rule doesn't apply to people who live in the same house. 

But if you didn't already know, some residents in B.C. are having a hard time following the social distancing guidelines.

The province acknowledged this in their notice. Saying that while many of us are practicing social distancing, "some continue to ignore the order, making enforcement in a wilderness setting challenging." 

Since we can't follow the rules, the parks will be closing down to keep us away from each other. The decision has been made in consultation with the RCMP, the local governments, First Nations, the search-and-rescue organizations, and the general public. 

The timing of this closure has also been influenced by the upcoming long Easter weekend. In any other year, the warmer weather often means "busy season" for the parks, as most choose to go camping and conduct other recreational activities at this time. 

That's why B.C. Parks is also extending its ban on camping in park grounds until May 31, 2020. Refunds for bookings up to May 21 will be sent automatically. 

As all provincial and national parks have closed and the City of Vancouver's recreation areas have also shut indefinitely, our spring festivities will have to continue indoors, it seems. 

It's a good thing that there is a lot to do indoors because nothing really replaces a lovely stroll through our phenomenal parks.

This is why the parks will open up as soon as the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, gives the go-ahead.

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