Government-operated campgrounds in the Yukon will reopen on June 4. (Yukon News file)

Campgrounds reopening June 4

Yukoners are asked to stick to their “double-bubble” households, respect social distancing measures and bring extra soap and water for hand-washing as territorial campgrounds reopen June 4.

Like many aspects of life under COVID-19, camping in the Yukon will look different this year, Environment Yukon spokesperson Scott Cameron said in an interview May 29.

Campers are being asked, for example, to only share a campsite with members of their household and another household they’ve chosen to interact with without needing to physically distance. Campers should also bring extra soap and water for hand-washing and cleaning off picnic tables after use, and people staying in RVs are asked to use their on-board washrooms instead of campground outhouses.

As well, the government is asking people to buy camping permits in advance in order to reduce the use of on-site pay stations, which require campers to pay for their permits with cash, and to avoid stopping in communities to pick up supplies if possible.

All orders issued by the territory’s chief medical officer of health, such as a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, also apply at campgrounds, Cameron said, and parks staff, on top of doing regular maintenance and enforcement duties, will also be looking out for compliance to COVID-19 measures.

While Premier Sandy Silver has previously stated that only Yukon residents will be allowed to use territory-run campgrounds, Cameron said there are exceptions to this; people who live in British Columbia communities exempt from the Yukon’s self-isolation-upon-entry requirement, such as Atlin and Fraser, may stay at Yukon campgrounds too. Non-Yukon residents staying with a resident family member — one of the exceptions to outsiders otherwise not being allowed into the territory — may also use Yukon campgrounds.

Breagha Fraser, a spokesperson for the Department of Community Service’s emergency coordination centre, wrote in an email that COVID-19 enforcement officers, which include conservation and parks officers, will be aiming to educate instead of punish.

“It’s critical that campers respect the rules. We want to keep campgrounds safe and open,” she wrote. “Should the rules not be followed, we’ll have to re-evaluate operations.”

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