Canadians may be dreading this winter more than usual because of the limits placed on social gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the coronavirus spreads less easily outdoors more people have been spending time outdoors and are planning to do so even as the weather gets much colder.
Chilly weather between November and April or May
Depending on where you live in Canada, in January, the average high temperature can be a relatively mild 7 C in Vancouver to -7 in Edmonton and -6 in Ottawa. That said, on January 19, 2019, Ottawa’s temperature dipped to -24, one degree lower than that recorded in the coldest capital in the world, Ulan Bator, Mongolia. It can get pretty frigid.
Nonetheless, some brave souls make a sport of dressing up warmly and going out to play. It definitely helps if you keep moving. Now, it looks like more people may be willing to seek outdoor activities to avoid going stir crazy.
Centres must observe pandemic precautions
The province of Quebec has had the highest number of cases of COVID-19 in Canada and has been under varying degrees of restrictions in order to limit the spread of the disease. So, it may have come as some relief when the government announced that people would be allowed to go to centres offering outdoor activities this winter. These would include ski and snow shoe centres, snow sliding centres as well as snowmobiling trails, warming cabins and bathroom facilities.
Cleaning, disinfecting, social distancing required
The caveat is that all centres will have to clean and disinfect their facilities and equipment, and limit the number of people using them. They will also have to ensure that people follow precautions such as social distancing, especially while waiting in lines, and wear nose and mouth coverings even while outdoors. Even in the zones which have the highest level of restrictions, people will be able to eat their lunches inside warming huts as long as they follow the local rules.
The government says that moving from one region to another is not forbidden but it is not recommended. This advice seems contradictory since many people would have to travel to a different region to get access to outdoor sporting activities. For example, many people in Montreal drive north to the Laurentians region or southeast to the Eastern Townships to find hills upon which to ski or trails for skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling.
Business could well improve for the centres offering winter activities as well as those selling equipment and warm outdoor clothing.
One of the facilities north of Montreal has been preparing for winter activities during this pandemic. Nicolas Raymond, co-owner of Glissades des Pays-d’en-Haut said he is very happy with the decision and that he convenes a committee weekly to discuss the provisions it will make to protect customers from the coronavirus. He said the firm had plans to renovate its facilities and now will execute them in conformity with public health requirements “to the highest standards.” He is feeling very positive about the facility’s winter season.