While there aren’t a lot of other places to go, the Tsang family is more than happy they chose to come to Red Deer.
The Calgarians had originally planned on being in Banff, with a set of six families camping for the May long weekend, but of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic, those arrangements changed.
After visiting the Lions Campground in Red Deer last summer, and darting up the QEII Highway earlier this month, and discovering it was open already, it was a no-brainer to come back.
They arrived around lunchtime Friday and quickly set up their newly purchased RV, ready to enjoy the weekend away.
“It’s away from home. Something different compared to the same old four walls,” said Fred Tsang, who has been RV camping with his parents all over North America since he was young.
“It’s something different in the summer. Mom can’t do tent camping. We need plumbing, so that’s why we got the RV.”
Activities have been in full swing since May 1 at the Lions Campground. Manager Murray Thompson said it’s been an adjustment to the new normal, with social distancing rules in place.
They’ve been at half capacity, the washrooms have been closed and there’s no laundry facilities.
“They are reminded as soon as they check in; we have a detailed COVID-19 sheet that they have to follow. Everyone is basically in their self-contained units… everyone seems to be abiding by the rules,” Thompson said, noting they aren’t allowing tenters this weekend.
Still, with the warm sun expected to peek through the clouds throughout the long weekend, Thompson said they’re approaching a full slate of campers, which he’s happy to see.
Sunday and Monday might see some rain, but other than that, 20 Celius and sunny is about as good as it gets for people heading outdoors.
”It’s unfortunate for the tenters and stuff like that; it looks good,” Thompson said about the weather.
“We don’t have tons of spots, but it’s all good. It’ll be nice to actually see people back again.
“We have people who stay here all summer. You get to know them quite well. They’re looking forward to seeing more people around, too.”
Although the May Long weekend isn’t typically the busiest holiday for Sylvan Lake, the town is taking plenty of precautions to deter visitors as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Out-of-town visitors are still being discouraged and lakefront parking lots will be closed for the long weekend.
Still, Sylvan Lake kicked off Phase 1 of its relaunch plan Thursday, with lakefront parks opening up. Public washrooms will still be closed, and snow fencing will stay up to deter gatherings of 15 people or more.
Every second picnic table will be open as a means of promoting social distancing.
“Our main message is restating what the chief medical officer of health is saying: don’t leave your primary residence at this time,” said Ron Lebsack, director of parks and protective services.
“Even though we have opened up to Stage 1 of the relaunch, they’re still not promoting travel across the province.
“From our perspective, being that we’re a resort community and we get lots of visitors and tourists, we’re putting into place some deterrents to say, ‘please stay home for now and come visit later when we are open. But right now, we’re not available.’”
Playgrounds and sports fields will still be closed, although the disc golf park and the skate park will be open.