With the first long weekend of the camping season nearly upon us, Manitoba Parks would like to remind campers that things will be a little bit different this year. As Manitoba continues to battle a global pandemic, Elisabeth Ostrop with Manitoba Parks has some reminders for campers.

Remember To Physical Distance

Even though you are in a park, Manitobans must remember to practice physical distancing. This includes while on trails, in campgrounds, at the beach or green space or when using any washroom or shower facilities.

There Is Still A Limit On Group Sizes

No more than ten people may gather in any common area or green space.

Consider Who You Are Camping With

Under normal circumstances you might go camping with your friends or neighbours and then socialize between campsites. For this weekend that is not being encouraged. Rather, campers should stick to their family group or household and not mingle with neighbouring campsites.

Purchase Your Park Entry Permit At Home

Permits can now be purchased online. By purchasing it at home, you can print off your permit and have it ready. That way, you will not have to wait in line at the campground office to make that transaction.

Remember The Travel Restrictions To Northern Manitoba

No one from southern Manitoba should be heading up to Flin Flon, The Pas, or Thompson to go camping or fishing this weekend.

According to Ostrop, the check-in process will be different this weekend than what is customary. In an effort to limit interaction between campers and campground staff, Ostrop says reservation holders will now be able to proceed directly to their campsite. Be sure to check your confirmation letter to see which site you have booked. Campers will then be booked-in automatically.

For walk-up customers, Ostrop says they can still go to the campground office to make their booking. However, they may have to wait in line, as office staff will probably be serving one customer at a time.

Not all washroom and shower facilities will be open this weekend. But, Ostrop says that is due to the time of year, not COVID-19. She says in some parks, the waterlines are still frozen and so those water systems have not yet been opened for the season.

As for playground structures, they will be open, but Ostrop urges parents to bring wipes and hand sanitizer along and to clean off the parts of the structure that their children are playing on.

“Because the onus is on them to ensure that their kids aren’t mingling with other kids while on the playground,” notes Ostrop.

The Victoria Day long weekend is no longer liquor-free within Manitoba Parks. Ostrop says this is the third year that our province has opted to lift the liquor ban. She notes it is okay for people to have a drink with their dinner, but says rowdyism is enforceable at any time.

“We just ask that people keep it within moderation and not get out of hand,” she requests. “As long as Manitobans are good about not getting out of control on the May long weekend, we hope to not have to re-introduce that liquor ban that we had previously.”

Meanwhile, according to Ostrop, the number of campsite bookings for this weekend at Manitoba Parks, is very similar to last year. However, she says there is always the walk-up crowd which can change those numbers. Right now the occupancy rate is about 36 percent.

Overall, campsite reservations for all of 2020 is up about eight percent over last year. Ostrop says just over 41,000 bookings have been made so far.