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No camping? Some rustic resorts are packing guests in this weekend

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge is one of many rustic resorts expected to fill up with visitors this coming weekend.
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May 16, 2020 - 3:00 PM

One of the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19 has been hospitality with many hotels closing and others cutting back drastically on staff and available rooms.

But rustic fishing resorts, many of which are just opening for the season this coming long weekend, are close to being sold out.

“Some of our campsites are too mucky because there’s still snow in them,” Sherry Smith, co-owner of Dee Lake Wilderness Resort told, May 14. “All the cabins and cottages are booked and about 85 per cent of our campsites.”

Despite losing international travellers, weddings and big group parties, Oyama Lake Eco Lodges is pretty well sold out for this weekend as well and many of the cancelled bookings for the next couple of months are filling up.

“There has been more demand for tenting and that style of camping,” operator Nick Scott said. “We’ve had a lot of calls to bring up tent trailers and tents, specifically, where we normally don’t accommodate for that.”

He only has four or five tent sites because there’s a free forestry campground right beside the resort. With it closed to overnight camping, people want to squeeze into his site, which, especially because of COVID-19, he can’t accommodate.

Headwaters Family Resort, above Peachland, would have been sold out if they hadn’t decided to stay closed until June 1, co-owner Vicki Smith said.

They all have to make adjustments because of COVID-19. Cleaning has been ramped up and the number of people checking in at one time or entering their stores has to be limited.

In fact, at Oyama Lake, it’s recommended to those who register on-line that they skip stopping at the office and go straight to their cabins.

Guests aren’t allowed to have visitors, some showers and playgrounds have been closed and physical distancing of non-related groups is required.

Beaver Lake Mountain Resort has posted some rules on its web site such as only two people allowed in rented boats (four if from the same family), no tents and no gatherings of more than six people on any part of the property.

In many cases, guests are required to bring their own bedding but some may want to bring paper plates, even though the operators have to sanitize everything between guests.

All this interest in hitting the resorts does run contrary to suggestions by the province.

“Now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation,” states a news release from the Ministry of Public Safety. “Now is not the time to camp, or to travel to secondary homes or vacation properties in other communities.”

Boating is also being discouraged.

“Recreational mariners are reminded to avoid non-essential trips on the water and stay close to home,” the news release states. “Each call search-and-rescue specialists respond to puts them at risk of exposure to COVID-19, as well as requiring them to use precious supplies of personal protective equipment."

There is also a reminder that COVID-19 restrictions have not yet been relaxed.

“Though some restrictions are expected to ease next week, it remains vital for everyone to maintain physical distancing and take other important measures to limit the spread of COVID-19,” the release states. “This includes staying home if you have any symptoms of illness, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and not touching your face."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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