A sign at the Aspen Crossing Campground, southeast of Calgary, reminding campers to maintain social distancing.

Long weekends typically see Alberta residents heading for cottages and campsites in droves, but that’s not happening this Easter weekend as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, according to Global News.

While provincial and federal parks have closed their gates, at least one privately owned campground says it’s open for business. Aspen Crossing, a campground southeast of Calgary, is gearing up for a busy weekend as staff expects to be at 50% capacity.

The campground sits on 300 acres of land with 121 campsites.

“Let’s get some of those people that are in apartments, in condos, things like that, a safe haven where they can take a break and not be confined within four walls,” explain park officials. “We’re worried about people’s mental health, as well as keeping them safe.”

The campground has laid out strict rules for those looking to camp out during the first long weekend of the pandemic. Staff have set safe social distancing measures between each campsite, the on-site restaurant will only serve take-out for campers, and potlucks and bonfires are banned.

Group gathering places on-site, including the playground, are also closed, and campers are not allowed to visit other campsites unless they are keeping six feet between them and other campers.

To help gauge social distancing, the campground is also handing out walking sticks that are cut to be six feet long. According to staff, the laundry room and bathrooms are limited to one person at a time, with extra cleaning in place.

The staff is also working to limit in-person interactions with campers.

“Your consent form you sign says: ‘I understand this is a pandemic. I understand all of these rules,’ note officials. “It goes in a drop-box. We’re following every precaution we can to keep people safe but still allow them to get out, get some fresh air and get a little bit of a breather to help themselves recharge so they’re ready to finish this pandemic off.”

Global News has confirmed that Aspen Crossing has been in contact with an Alberta Health Services (AHS) inspector about opening for the long weekend.

According to AHS, campgrounds are not required to close at this time as long as they protect staff and patrons from the risk of transmission – but they still recommend people stay home.

The only facilities that should consider remaining open are sites that offer long-term residency and where the sites are primary accommodation for users, AHS said.

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