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Camping Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville
Photograph: Mathieu Dupuis

Campgrounds in Québec are open today—here's what you need to know

Now's your chance to plan a camping or glamping trip outside of the city, but there are some restrictions around who can go.

By JP Karwacki

Montrealers can now access some of the best camping near the city since the Société des establishments de plein air du Québec (SÉPAQ) has been given the green light to reopen all kinds of campsites, chalets, ready-to-camp units, yurts and rustic camps outside of the Greater Montreal area and Joliette. That means there won't be camping access to Oka National Park, the Boucherville Islands or Mont-Saint-Hilaire until further notice.

So what do you need to do if you want to go into the Great Outdoors beyond the Greater Montreal area? 

Online booking is pretty much where anyone should start when it comes to accessing places to camp or planning day trips, and campers-to-be should note that different parks have different levels of access (a map can be found on SÉPAQ's website).

According to the organization's FAQ page, the rules around who can go camping with you are similar to—but not the same as—rules Montreal has seen around social gatherings: Only one family unit, or the people you have been confined with, can access a single site at one time (roommates count), or else your access to your reservation can be revoked. That means group camping is definite no-no, and that includes having two tents on the same campsite while social distancing is in place between two groups.

Additionally, campers and park-goers should generally bring their own equipment with them, whether that's life jackets for the water or disinfectant to clean up things anything from picnic tables to bedding and electrical outlets in chalets. While the frequency of cleaning and disinfection rounds has been increased for all amenities in parks, it's better to be safe than sorry.

This news follows the announcement on May 14 that Québec's national parks were reopening to the public for hiking, biking and day fishing in select areas. Since that announcement was made, SÉPAQ has noted that activities like kayaking, paddleboarding and other nautical activities are now permitted so long as the personal watercraft is used by one person (so no doubling up in that canoe).

The move comes as the province makes a gradual push towards regional tourism. “With this announcement, we are taking a big step towards a tourist summer in Quebec," the province's Minister of Tourism Caroline Proulx announced on May 27, noting that safety is still of the utmost importance during the gradual deconfinement. "Whether on vacation or at work or at home, we absolutely must continue to protect ourselves, and others, if we are to enjoy the summer in Quebec."

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