PARKSVILLE -- Provincial parks in British Columbia are back in business and are once again accepting visitors. The pandemic lockdown was lifted Monday and there was no delay in campers hitting some popular Vancouver Island locations.

At the Rathtrevor Beach campground near Parksville, Russ Henshaw of Sidney was extremely excited to be able to enjoy the camping under ideal weather. 

"We've been chomping at the bit to get away camping and we're thankful that the weather is nice so we can enjoy it up here," Henshaw says. 

He says it's important that people are allowed to use the facilities again. 

"It's like the ultimate social distancing location and so we were quite disappointed when they shut things down and we're very happy that things are back open again," he says. 

But it's not only the visitors who are happy to be back relaxing under the trees. Staff are also rejoicing, according to Jennifer Harrison of BC Parks.

"Oh yeah, lots of smiles, it's pretty exciting,” she says. “It was a long winter for most.”

The campgrounds have reopened with special protocols that staff and guests are expected to adhere to.

"We do have a COVID plan and we're all learning all over again,” Harrison says. “We have to wear masks and gowns and shields when cleaning and the cleaning will be more often.”

The chance to register for sites opened on May 25 through the Discover Camping reservation system. Demand was high and some campers had trouble even logging on. 

"It crashed and it crashed and crashed, so three hours later we booked for June and July,” says camper Glenn Gray.

Campground managers say most of the guests appear to be coming from here on Vancouver Island but that could well change as more bookings take place towards July and August.