The Ontario government will allow drive-in movie theatres and batting cages to open and will start allowing backcountry camping at provincial parks as it continues to loosen some of the restrictions put into place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In a news release issued on Saturday morning, the Ford government said that it would amend its emergency orders to allow drive-in theatres that were already in existence to reopen “with restrictions” as of Sunday.
The release also said that batting cages will be permitted to open on Sunday so that residents “can start to enjoy seasonal outdoors activities at safe physical distances.”
A subsequent release also outlined plans to “gradually reintroduce” camping in provincial parks.
The province say that backcountry camping, where participants hike or paddle through park lands and set up camp in remote areas, will be permitted as of Monday.
The province says that it will also expand the permitted activities at provincial parks and conservation reserves for day users to include picnicking and access to off-leash areas.
All other overnight camping areas at provincial parks and conservation reserves will, however, remain closed until at least June 14, as will visitor centres, park stores, playgrounds, and beaches.
"We are all eager to get outside this time of year, and backcountry camping will give people a low-risk way to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors while following physical distancing rules," Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek said in the release. "We're counting on people to be responsible when enjoying our parks and continue to follow all of the public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19."
Ontario had initially closed all provincial parks and conservation reserves at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic but allowed them to reopen for day-use only earlier this month.
The latest changes come nearly two weeks after Ontario entered Stage One of its three-stage reopening plan.
So far the province has permitted retail stores with street entrances to reopen and has also allowed some amenities in parks, such as sports fields, to be used.