Chief medical officer reminds ATV riders in N.S. to stay off the trails for now
Dr. Robert Strang says safety will determine when outdoor recreational activities can resume
ATV enthusiasts are being reminded that they, too, should be staying home during the pandemic.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, recently sent a letter to the executive director of the ATV Association of Nova Scotia.
Strang asked Barry Barnet to remind members that recreational activities, including ATV riding, should not be happening.
"As we discussed, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation all Nova Scotians are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel and activities," Strang said in his letter.
"This means that at this time outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, fishing and ATV riding should not happen. It is also important that Nova Scotians know that at this time all provincial parks and trails are closed to the public."
Barnet said he recently heard concerns from the public about riders not following physical distancing rules, including riding in groups and parking on private property.
Barnet believes Strang has heard those same concerns.
"I think the vast majority of our members and other riders recognize the importance around following the public health directives and the rules that are put in place to keep us all safe, but there are some that quite honestly, either inadvertently or otherwise, simply aren't," said Barnet.
Barnet shared the letter with members of the ATV association on Facebook. It has received a mixed reaction from the public, particularly from non-members.
"Many of the people who were making comments were neither members of our organization nor even ATV riders," said Barnet. "They were people who seemed like they were tired of this whole thing.
"There were people quoting internet studies and studies in other areas. It was bizarre."
Barnet said he respects Strang's advice. He believes it's important to take extra precautions now so that Nova Scotians can start riding again soon.
Dan Fraser, the president of the Isle Royale ATV Club in Cape Breton, agrees.
Normally, he would be helping members of his club clean up trails for riders this time of year.
"As much as I would like to go out and ride … there's no doubt about the fact that we must continue to follow the guidelines as they are put out by this province," said Fraser.
Fraser said there are a lot of unknowns when riders go into the woods and that could be dangerous.
"The difficulty is we don't know where we're going, where this darn virus is attached to whatever out there," he said.
"We have no idea because it seems that people who get out around an area, who get out close to other people, all of a sudden there's an increase in the amount of folks who have the virus."
He said his members all seem in agreement with Strang's directives.
In his letter, Strang said he will be looking at slowly reopening outdoor recreational activities once conditions make it safe to do so.