Getting outside during lockdown

by Mar 24, 2020

On March 22, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen MacNeil declared a provincial State of Emergency.  These measures included the closure of many public spaces including parks, beaches and trails.
N.S. declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19

This has caused additional stress for people using outdoor spaces as relief from stay-at-home guidelines. After the oritingal declaration, there was some confusion on what trails were open for use. On Tuesday, March 24, the NS Department of Land and Forestry sent shared some additional information for trail stakeholders.

Earlier today, the province updated Nova Scotians on recent measures to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including use of parks and trails.

Understandably, Nova Scotians want to get out for walks and hikes in these days of self-isolation and recreation closures. The province has advised citizens that many trails across our province remain open for exercise.

There are some exceptions. Provincial parks and beaches are closed. Trails within the provincial park system are closed. Provincial trails across Nova Scotia, if not within a provincial park or beach, are open to the public. Gathering limits of no more than five people and social distancing guidelines of six feet or two meters must be followed.

We have advised Nova Scotian to stay home and stay within their own neighbourhoods. We shared the link to the Nova Scotia Trails Guide, where citizens can go online for more information on trails in their areas. We have advised against driving, as parking may be prohibited or unavailable in some locations. Parking at provincial park properties is prohibited.

Community groups or municipalities managing trails outside of Crown land may close their trails at their discretion. If the trail is on Crown land, groups require approval from the Department of Lands and Forestry first and should contact the local area manager.

We expect trails will become busier. Trails should be monitored to ensure everyone can safely enjoy them and follow the guidelines and directives. If you feel a community trail on Crown land has become too busy, please contact us for advice or to discuss options.

Nova Scotia Department of Land and Forestry, March 24, 2020

As always, find up-to-date information on the province’s response to COVID-19 at:

The City of Halifax also added specific details about acceptable use.
Read the specifics here:  HRM Offers up Clarification on Municipal Trail Closures, a comprehensive source for outdoor adventure locations, posted this summary:

  • All Provincial & Municipal Parks CLOSED.
  • Due to the state of emergency, NS provincial parks, national parks & tourist attractions are CLOSED.
  • Halifax municipal parks, beaches, playgrounds, sports fields/courts are also CLOSED.
  • Visitors will be considered trespassing & vehicles towed.
  • Nova Scotias are currently not allowed to travel or gather in groups of more than 5 people.

Avoid areas that cannot guarantee 6-foot distancing rules. Trails (not in parks) remain open for exercise.  Premier McNeil: “Walk in your community. If you need to drive to get your exercise, you’re going too far.  If you live near a trail, walk the trail.”

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


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