We're learning more about that "new normal." Ontario parks and other amenities may be starting to fully reopen, but they're looking pretty different. Halton Region near Toronto, for example, is now requiring all visitors to make a reservation in order to visit.
Ontario Provincial Parks were already granted a license to reopen earlier this month, and now some regional parks are following suit.
But in some parts of the GTA, it seems the days of simply rolling up and setting up your picnic spot are done.
Starting on Friday, May 22, Halton Region, which houses the cities of Oakville and Burlington and the towns of Milton and Halton Hills, is reopening five of its seven parks.
These parks are Crawford Lake, Hilton Falls, Rattlesnake Point, Mount Nemo, and Kelso Summit. Among these, Kelso is only opening back up to biking visitors for the time being.
There's a catch, though. You now need a reservation.
Making that clear, Conservation Halton notes "from this point forward, parks visitors and members will be required to make a reservation prior to their visit... Regardless of how you enter the park, you still need to make a reservation."
That system went live on Thursday.
So that means whether you're driving from afar, enjoying a summer bike ride, or even just walking in from nearby, you need to have booked in advance.
Halton also specifies that certain park amenities like washrooms are not opening back up for now.
This is all part of that "new normal" we keep hearing so much about.
"Being able to predict and monitor the number of people in the parks means that we can create the conditions needed for physical distancing," the region notes. It adds that benefits will be felt even beyond the pandemic, such as better indicators of when parks are busiest.
So, while it may be frustrating for some of the parks' frequent visitors, it sounds like it's here to stay.
It's not just the parks, either. We'd better get used to making reservations for just about everything.
Nearly three weeks ago, Toronto Mayor John Tory warned that the city's new standard would be appointments, appointments, and more appointments.
Meanwhile, as Halton parks began opening on Friday, Ontario announced its biggest jump in new COVID-19 cases in two weeks.