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Yukon campgrounds open this week — here's what you need to know

Yukon's territorial campgrounds are set to open on Thursday, but things will be a little different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents only for all 42 territorial campgrounds starting Thursday

A campsite at Yukon's Fox Lake campground. With Yukon's borders effectively closed to tourists, only residents will be allowed to stay at territorial campgrounds when they open on Thursday. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Yukon's territorial campgrounds are set to open on Thursday, but things will be a little different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For one thing, people might be more anxious than ever to get away from home and find a change of scenery.

"We've got all hands on deck this week to get ready for a big opening," said Scott Cameron, the Yukon government's parks information officer.

Outhouses, boat launches, playgrounds and picnic shelters will all be open at the 42 territorial campgrounds.

Here's what you need to know about using Yukon's campgrounds this summer.

Yukoners only, for now 

With Yukon's borders effectively closed to tourists, only residents are allowed to stay at the campgrounds.

"In a normal year, about half our overnight campground users would be from out of territory, and they won't be there this year with the border restrictions," Cameron said. "So that's gonna mean some availability, make it maybe a bit easier to find a site."

Non-residents who are given 24 hours to transit through the territory won't be allowed to stay overnight in a campground. Cameron says parks staff are busy putting up signs at all campgrounds.

"Those people are given a very specific route to [transit through Yukon] and they cannot stop or stay at government-run campgrounds," he said.

Outhouses, boat launches, playgrounds and picnic shelters will all be open. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

"So they're going to get a very visual reminder as soon as they pull off the highway. And that's going to line up with what they've been told at the border by an enforcement officer."

Cameron says enforcement officers and parks staff will be monitoring all parks to make sure people are following the rules.

Be as self-contained as possible

Parks officials say campers should be as self-contained as possible, with everything they need for their stay away from home.

That means bringing enough supplies to avoid unnecessary trips into the nearest town. And if campers do need to go to town, they're asked to only patronize those businesses that welcome visitors right now.

Cameron says people should make sure they have enough water and hand sanitizer with them to keep things clean. He says people should wipe down their site's picnic table as soon as they arrive.

Campers are encouraged to avoid using the outhouses if they have facilities in their camper of RV.

"We realize that the work that we need to do to clean outhouses this year will take a little bit longer. Staff are going to have to prioritize work and they're going to obviously clean the outhouses when they arrive on their shifts," Cameron said.

Campgrounds will still have free firewood on hand. 

Campers are encouraged to purchase their permits before arriving at the park, either online or from a vendor. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Camping permits can be purchased as of Tuesday either online or from certain vendors. Cameron urges people to purchase their permit before arriving at a park.

Yukoners are also being told to camp only with members of their "combined household bubble."

Follow the 6 steps

"We're following the advice of health authorities, and we're going to continue to do that in our campgrounds," Cameron said.

That means observing the "six steps to staying safe," as advised by health officials:

  • maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres
  • wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer
  • stay home if you're sick
  • gather in groups of fewer than 10 people
  • limit travel to rural communities
  • self-isolate if you've returned to Yukon or been in contact with someone who's sick

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the Yukon government's parks information officer was Scott Campbell. That was incorrect. His name is Scott Cameron.
    Jun 02, 2020 8:42 PM CT

With files from Christine Genier

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