Resuming outdoor activities – Camping

Photo of a tent in the snow, labelled 'Be Adventurous'

The Stay at home directions (No 7) came into force at 11:59 pm on 25 May 2020 and replaced the Stay at home directions (No 6). “These directions […] amongst other things facilitate students returning to school and other educational facility.
The Restricted activity directions (No 8) came into force at 11:59 pm on 25 May 2020 and replaced the Restricted activity directions (No 7).

Because of the high rates of testing and the low levels of community transmission, the Victorian Government has announced the gradual easing of restrictions throughout the state from 11:59pm Sunday 31 May 2020 [1] which will allow for a return to camping activities.

❝ From 11.59pm on 31 May, we’ll be increasing gathering limits to 20 people and allowing overnight stays.
That means you can sleep over at a mate’s or rent somewhere for a weekend away. ❞ — DanielAndrewsMP [Facebook]

    Travel – Key Points From 11:59pm on 31 May, restrictions on travel within Victoria will be eased further:

  • You will be able to stay in a holiday home or private residence
  • You will be also able to stay in tourist accommodation, including caravan parks and camping grounds, where there are no shared communal facilities (e.g. kitchens and bathrooms)
  • Tourist accommodation can open to guests provided there are no shared communal facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms

Note the disclaimer that “Further guidelines and requirements may be developed before the restrictions change“, this is where some of the questions arising will be answered. Victoria has produced good sets of FAQs as conditions have changed, I would also expect this to occur for the camping situation.

Parks are being assessed to reopen for hiking and other recreational activities under these new directions. Expect campgrounds and accommodation that require the use of communal areas to remain closed.

❝ We are assessing all Parks Victoria managed campgrounds to determine which ones can be opened safely in line with the latest requirements. ❞ [4]

    Sport and exercise – Key points From 11:59pm on 31 May

  • Up to 20 people can participate in outdoor group sport and exercise activities, provided you can keep your distance (at least 1.5 metres apart) and they are not competitive.
  • Up to 20 people can use public playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skateparks
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools can be opened to a maximum of 20 patrons per separate enclosed space and a limit of 3 persons per lane in each pool.

Currently activities are restricted to groups of ten, with the changes from 11:59pm on 31 May, this will increase to 20 people. With these increases, the need for physical distancing and appropriate hygiene practices are important.

  • Where possible, driving with passengers outside your household should be avoided.
  • Use of shared sporting equipment should be minimised and there should be no sharing of equipment that touches the face or head (e.g. helmets, goggles or masks).

When these new restrictions are active, there is no restriction on the distance you can travel. There is still the the request that although you can drive to a location to exercise, if you can walk or exercise near your home, you should. Creating a distinction between travel and transporting to exercise. This leaves a grey area for ‘recreation’ which will hopefully be clarified in the FAQs, due to clause 9 in the The Stay at home directions referring to “exercise or recreation”.

❝ Then, if it all goes to plan and we’re tracking okay with case numbers, we’ll be able to make some more changes a bit later in the month.
From 11.59pm on 21 June, that would include reopening gyms, indoor sports facilities, movie theatres – and the snow season will be able to kick off. ❞ — DanielAndrewsMP [Facebook]

    Sport and exercise – Key points:
    22 June 2020

  • The ski season can open following work with industry to develop plans so people can enjoy skiing facilities and resort venues safely.

This should have a a positive roll on impact for access to managed snow camping areas such as Mt Stirling, Mt Buffalo, and Mt Baw Baw. True back country camping in un-managed areas should be available from the 31 May as there are no shared communal facilities.

[1] Victoria’s restriction levels [Department of Health and Human Services Victoria]
[2] Victoria’s restriction levels: Travel [Department of Health and Human Services Victoria]
[3] Victoria’s restriction levels: Sport and exercise [Department of Health and Human Services Victoria]
[4] COVID-19 Update [Parks Victoria]

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