Forum: Why do campsites have to remain closed?

I read with disappointment the National Parks Board's advisories pertaining to Covid-19 (Phase 2) on its website, in particular, that camping sites, including those on Pulau Ubin, and barbecue pits remain closed.

As an avid camper, I have been waiting to be allowed to go camping again. In the early phases of the pandemic, it was easy to understand and accept the restriction on all public activities so as to reduce the transmission of the disease, even though camping in itself is a low-risk activity.

Now that we are in late phase two, and with other public activities allowed to proceed with mitigating measures, I am saddened that camping is still left out.

I understand the concern that camping can involve large numbers of unrelated people in proximity for long periods such as in school-organised extracurricular activities. However, like every other activity being allowed now, it can be regulated through restriction of numbers or duration instead of a draconian blanket ban.

I camp alone over a single night in a single-person tent. It is hard to accept that camping carries a higher risk of contracting or transmitting Covid-19 than, for example, attending a religious service.

Camping in Singapore already has an existing regulatory system. There are only three permitted sites. Two of the sites require online registration and limit the registrant to two days per month.

I have been visited each time I camped by a friendly police officer to check my identification and my camping registration. I hope it will not be too hard to build on this system to ensure the maximum number of allowed campers and maximum days permitted.

I have already approached NParks directly via the standard channels without obtaining satisfactory closure. Perhaps it is because Singapore does not have a strong outdoors culture or community that there is no impetus to open up the campsites. The public campsites in Singapore are community resources. I hope NParks, as the custodian, will look into opening them up to public use again expediently.

John Chua Kong Yeow

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.