The Omicron variant of COVID-19 wave has forced an area conservation authority to push back overnight and group camping bookings.
The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) which operates multiple overnight camping areas from Strathroy to Lambton and Chatham-Kent, says it was a pre-emptive move.
“What we’re attempting to do is trying to make sure we don’t disappoint anybody. We had people trying to register this week and suddenly these restrictions are in place,” states SCRCA General Manager, Ken Phillips.
So, rather than opening up for bookings on Jan. 10, the SCRCA has pushed backed online reservations until March 21.
Phillips acknowledges the move is disappointing for those looking for anything to look forward to in the wake of new COVID-19 restrictions.
But, he says his team foresaw even more disappointment if campers were allowed to book now only to have reservations cancelled later.Ken Phillips, general manager of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, is seen in an online interview with CTV News London on Jan. 6, 2022. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)“You know you’re talking about refunding people and disappointing people and who do you pick? We’re just trying to avoid all those types of circumstances.”
Even if conservation authorities permit all campers, Phillips says his team is preparing for possible restrictions, including reducing available sites to space people out.
But as with everything else in the pandemic, it is a wait-and-see approach.
Closer to mid-March, Phillips says his team will re-evaluate what the 2022 camping season may look like.
For now, he expects seasonal (full-time) campers will be permitted with potential restrictions.
For the rest, he regrets he can’t assure summer memories by a campfire or a pond will happen.
“It just gets frustrating when you can’t guarantee that they’ll have that opportunity in the coming season.”
CTV News reached to the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority in the London-area to inquire about any COVID-19 camping booking delays.
For now, spokesperson Paul Switzer says reservations for overnight camping will open Feb. 1, however that may still change.
“At this point we are not delaying those reservations, but we will be clear with the public if that is not the case. We don’t want to irritate people more than they already are,” said Switzer.