The NWT government hasn’t banned all overnight camping during phase one of the pandemic recovery plan. You just can’t use existing campgrounds, public or private.
In other words, you can still camp overnight if you are out on the land and not using any recognized campground or its facilities. But there are other rules to follow, too.
“It’s about the businesses opening, not whether people can sleep somewhere which is not their house if they wish,” said Mike Westwick, a spokesperson for the NWT’s Department of Health and Social Services.
Territorial campgrounds are out of the question for overnight camping until phase two – expected in mid-to-late June. Day-use areas are, however, set to open in phase one.
The phrase “private campground” refers to businesses like those in the South Slave, said Westwick, that operate campsites as private services – meaning “areas which are normally closed off and which could offer an array of services to users.”
If you’re not in a private campsite or a territorial campground then you can camp overnight – as long as all of the territory’s other, regular laws let you do so.
“Any other laws still apply,” said Westwick. “If you’re trespassing, you’re trespassing; if you’re not supposed to park somewhere, you’re not supposed to park somewhere; if it’s not your land, you’re not supposed to do anything there without permission.”
The rest of the pandemic restrictions for phase one will still apply, too. That means no outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people in phase one, and you still need to keep your physical distance in those gatherings at all times.
Phase one is currently expected to kick in on Friday. On Thursday morning, the NWT’s chief public health officer said she was awaiting sign-off from the territory’s lawyers for the amended orders that bring phase one into effect.