North

N.W.T. government postpones opening of territory's parks amid COVID-19

The territorial government said in a release that the decision to postpone “supports territory-wide efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Northwest Territories.”

'I can assure you this decision was not made lightly,' says minister of industry, tourism and investment

Peering over Alexandra Falls at Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park. All territorial parks will remain closed until further notice. (Walter Strong/CBC News)

The N.W.T. department of industry, tourism, and investment is postponing the opening of the territory's parks.

In a release sent Friday afternoon, the territorial government said the decision to postpone "supports territory-wide efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Northwest Territories."

An opening date for the 2020 park season has not been set yet but most territorial parks usually open on May 15 every year.

Residents of the territory are still allowed to use walking trails within the territory's parks but must maintain physical distancing.

'This decision was not made lightly'

"We know that families are eager to get outside and enjoy N.W.T. Parks. I can assure you this decision was not made lightly but ultimately the health and safety of our guests, staff and contractors is our top priority," said Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Katrina Nokleby in the release.

Earlier on Friday, the territory laid out strict orders around gatherings. 

Gatherings outside are allowed for up to 10 people if they follow physical distancing protocol — at least two metres — the entire time. The same rules apply to going on walks with friends; you may go but you must keep your distance.

Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Katrina Nokleby, is quoted in a Friday release as saying the decision was made for the health and safety guests, staff, and contractors. (CBC)

The territory said in the release that the decision to postpone opening territorial parks follows the federal example of Parks Canada.

Last month, Canada closed its national parks until further notice amid the growing pandemic.The closures also apply to national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

The territorial government also said in a release that their online reservation system will remain closed until further notice and renting facilities will not be available until the parks open.

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