The sun is shining, school is out and summer is in full swing.

“It’s not too hot, there’s a nice breeze coming off the water,” said Jono McGee, who lives in Victoria. “It’s nice seeing the kids back on the park that I grew up in too.”

McGee and his two children were playing in Gyro Park on Monday, enjoying the nice weather safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course, we keep the hand sanitizer in the car, but it’s really good to see everybody get back to normal,” he said, looking around the park.

It brings back a sense of normalcy for kids too, who are used to visiting playgrounds and beaches during their summer break.

“Me and my Grandma like to come to the beach since, you know, summer vacation,” said 9-year-old Thomas Wood. “Parents still have to do work, they don’t want me to stare at a TV screen all day melting my brains.”

Many Islanders have had to cancel or adjust their summer vacation plans. Those who had intended to go out of province are now staying closer to home.

“We had all kinds of travel plans that went out the window and now we’re tourists in our own home,” said Matthew Riddett, who was also visiting Gyro Park with his children on Monday. “[We’re] tourists in Victoria now, so we’re going to try to get out to the beaches a little bit more.”

The province is now in phase 3 of the restart plan and travel within B.C. is resuming, as hotels, recreational facilities and overnight camping picks back up. The province’s top doctor, however, is reminding people to stay home if they’re sick.

“This is part of our respectful travel and part of our travel manners that we all need to follow, whether it’s in B.C. or whether we’re going elsewhere in Canada,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. “Now is not the time to travel with any symptoms of COVID-19.”

It’s going to be a different kind of summer but Henry says people can still go out and enjoy themselves, as long as they follow the rules, like physical distancing, wearing masks when you can’t maintain distance, and washing your hands often.

Jasmine Bala