VANCOUVER -- Provincial parks in British Columbia are closed to camping during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organization responsible for maintaining them says day trips are still encouraged - provided visitors maintain sufficient physical distance to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Provincial parks are a great place for people in B.C. to get out and enjoy nature, while following the social distancing directives from British Columbia's provincial health officer," BC Parks said in a news release Friday.

That means keeping "at least two metres apart from each other" while hiking trails or using park facilities - which are closed in most parks.

BC Parks said the following provincial parks have "some day-use services and facilities" currently available:

  • Mount Seymour Provincial Park, though access is restricted to some lower-elevation trails and parking and road access are closed
  • Cypress Provincial Park, though the same restrictions seen at Mount Seymour apply
  • Goldstream Provincial Park
  • Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
  • Miracle Beach Provincial Park
  • Wells Gray Provincial Park

Other provincial parks have had all visitor centres, nature houses, washrooms and other day-use facilities shut down, but visitors are invited to continue to use trails and areas that are accessible, keeping in mind that they are responsible for their own safety and that washrooms will not be available.

Services at provincial marine parks have also been shut down, and many parks have had their parking lots closed and gated, BC Parks said.

"Full provincial park closures are also being implemented on a case-by-case basis, where required, to address concerns regarding health and safety," the government agency said.

A full list of all the changes to access and services at provincial parks in British Columbia can be found on the BC Parks website. Anyone thinking of using a provincial park is asked to check the park's status on that website before going.

The ban on camping aligns with Parks Canada's requirement that all campgrounds, camping opportunities and accommodations be closed until at least April 30. Anyone with a reservation at a B.C. provincial park between now and then will have their reservation cancelled and their payment refunded.

"No action is required for people with reservations to receive a refund," BC Parks said. "Refunds will be done automatically and are expected to take seven to 10 business days. A public notice will be issued once facilities are reopened and the system is able to accept new reservations."