Coronavirus: Parks Canada to close national parks, historic sites to vehicle traffic

Parks Canada is restricting vehicles in national parks and national historic sites after people flocked to the popular areas on the weekend.

The federal agency said it’s still noticing lots of visitors despite suspension of services and facility closures last week.

READ MORE: Locals worried as people still head to Rocky Mountains despite COVID-19 pandemic

Parks Canada plans to suspend all motor vehicle access, starting Wednesday, until further notice.

“The government’s top priority remains the health and safety of Canadians,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who is responsible for Parks Canada, said in a news release.

“The window to contain the spread of COVID-19 is short and we must all change our behaviours now to flatten the curve and reduce the burden on our health-care system.”

1:44What is physical distancing?

What is physical distancing?

Wilkinson said that includes not visiting national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

Parks Canada said highways and roadways that go through the parks and historic sites will remain open for residents, but they are urged to stay home unless it’s essential travel.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Parks Canada closes visitor services at national parks, historic sites

Commercial and truck traffic will also be allow on those corridors, including the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park.

Officials said parking won’t be permitted on highways and roadways.

“We are asking all Canadians to respect these restrictions,” Parks Canada said in the news release.

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Parks Canada staff will continue to perform highway maintenance, snow removal, fire response, dam operations and water management on historic waterways, as well as avalanche forecasting and control in the mountain parks.

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Indigenous traditional activities in Parks Canada locations will continue, but users are being asked to follow the advice of public-health experts on social distancing.

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