Some of Canada’s national parks will be opening as soon as June 1, but Gwaii Haanas will remain closed until at least the end of next month.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday (May 14) that the federal government will take a phased-in approach to opening national parks and heritage sites, slowly reopening limited access and services amid the ongoing pandemic.
However, two days after Trudeau’s announcement, in a Facebook post on Saturday (May 16), the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site announced that it will remain closed until at least June 30 for the health and safety of the Haida Gwaii Watchmen, visitors, tour operators, and employees.
“We are following the advice of public health experts and taking steps to support the Government of Canada and Council of the Haida Nation’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, and reduce risks to everyone in Gwaii Haanas,” the post said.
Since the deadly virus that causes COVID-19 sent the country into lockdown in mid-March, all national parks and historic sites have been closed, with visitor services and all motor vehicle access suspended.
The gradual reopenings are to be accompanied by measures designed to ensure the safety of visitors and workers.
Parks Canada oversees 38 parks and 171 historic sites – including seven parks and 90 other sites in B.C.
Trudeau had said that parks may not reopen as quickly if in close proximity to First Nation reserves. Meanwhile, some parks will only partially reopen.
Many provincial parks in B.C. partially reopened on May 14, but on Haida Gwaii the Naikoon and Pure Lake parks remained closed.
— With files from Ashley Wadhwani