There already are several communities in this country, beginning to lift restrictions under the deconfinement plan. However, there is a series of regulations concerning practicing outdoor sports during the Transition Stage.
This Tuesday, August 11, the Ministry of Health published a resolution which allows practicing sports in open spaces, whether in public or in private, in communities which are in Phase 2. Sports activities have been authorized for a maximum of ten people.
One question frequently asked by those who enjoy practicing outdoor sports is whether or not they should wear masks while exercising. WIth respect to this, the Undersecretary of Public Health, Paula Daza, clarified that “the regulation of the Ministry of Health says that the use of a mask is mandatory, except when the person is performing a physical activity.” So the use of the mask would only be lifted, when a person is doing sports.
In addition to masks, the most important preventative measures that the Ministry recommends to be followed at all times are:
- Frequent hand washing.
- Sneeze or cough into the forearm or into a tissue.
- Social distancing of at least 1 meter when physical or sports activity is not being carried out.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Do not share hygiene or food items.
- Avoid waving or kissing.
- Maintain clean and well ventilated environments.
- Be alert to the symptoms of COVID-19 or in case of respiratory distress, go to the emergency service, or otherwise call Salud Responde.
Visiting National Parks and Reserves in the Middle of a Pandemic
There are several National Parks in Chile that have begun to open up to a moderate number of members of the public. However, if the protected wildlife area is situated in any of the communities under mandatory quarantine by the Ministry of Health, they will remain closed to the public.
CONAF, the National Forest Corporation, has made calls for self-care and introduced a series of measures including maintaining a minimum distance of two meters. That is why fans of trekking, hiking and mountaineering will have to wait, perhaps, a little longer. According to the protocol document for the gradual opening of the National System of Protected Wildlife Areas (SNASPE): “The possibility of temporary closures of long hiking trails or those considered very difficult, as a security measure to avoid accidents, taking into consideration that the health system, Police and Firefighters, are in a period of high demand ”.
Another problem that the Coronavirus has unleashed is the environmental contamination stemming from the use of masks and gloves. We have been able to see images from countries that are already in a phase of reopening beaches and parks, depicting the pollution of these areas by carelessly discarded gloves and masks . Therefore, it is recommended to deposit these utensils in suitable places once they have been used, in order to protect all the natural environments of our country.
How to minimize our impact when we visit nature?
The US school NOLS, which has had a presence in Chile since 1992, aims to implement courses aimed at Park Rangers to instruct tourists and the community through the educational program “Leave No Trace” that offers a simple structure to teach ethics and techniques aimed at reducing the impact on wildlife areas we visit. Currently, the NOLS school has agreements with CONAF and the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA) to educate its staff in the Leave No Trace program.
The Principles of Leave No Trace:
- Plan and inform yourself
- Good use of camping places
- Proper waste management
- Respect wildlife
- Do not make fires
- Leave the place as it was found
- Consider other visitors
Some important elements of these principles are for example; learning about the place you visit, what is allowed and what is not, knowing the regulations and weather conditions, leaving potential garbage at home and reducing weight and volume of your backpack. As well as,selecting a sturdy surface for hikes and remaining off pristine areas where there are no trails and vegetation is affected by trampling, preferably walking on inorganic surfaces such as rock, sand or in stream beds. If you have to camp in areas with vegetation, choose those that are more sturdy (pastures) or that can easily be recovered. Avoid locating the camp on fragile or sensitive sites, this category includes fresh water sources, nesting sites or habitats of Waterfowls, breeding sites for marine mammals, areas with broad-leaved vegetation, shrubs and flowers.
It is also recommended to camp 60 meters (approximately 70 adult steps) away from any water source, to reduce the possibility of contaminating fresh water sources that wildlife depends on and to keep hygiene articles and cleaning utensils clear from these water sources. As for garbage, it should be known that it must not be burned or buried, and everything that is carried must be returned home. It is important to remember that even if foods taken for the trip are organic, these are alien to the ecosystem and that their presence may cause changes in animal behavior, as feeding animals modifies their eating patterns, creating a dependency on humans.
The Official Pet Management Regulations issued by CONAF, emphasize the terms and importance of the presence of exotic Fauna in protected areas. The presence of dogs and other pets is not allowed in protected areas administered by the National Forestry Corporation, including National Parks (PN), National Reserves (RN), Natural Monuments (MN) and other categories of protected areas under the supervision of CONAF. This is part of an effort to reduce attacks, diseases and pollution caused by domesticated animals., Many such cases have already been reported: Foxes infected with Scabies, Distemper, Rabies and body parasites such as Tapeworms; Huemules with swollen glands, or with Papillomatosis lesions; birds affected with cnemidocoptes and other conditions alien to the ecosystem they inhabit.
Although playing sports is important, as is taking advantage of our natural environment, it is also advisable to exercise at home and avoid going outside unless strictly necessary, in order to minimize infections. It should be noted that our country is still in a critical phase posing a high health risk, as is known, social distancing is the best antidote against Covid-19. It is necessary to become aware of nature and the impact we cause on it even with our footsteps, our carelessness and the selfishness that governs us as a species. As a Foundation, we recommend using this time to plan future trips to Glaciers and National Parks in an informed and responsible fashion and to consider all aforementioned factors and to take into account the extreme sensitivity of the ecosystems and places we visit.
- Protocol for the safe return to physical activity and sport, Mindep. Link
- Protocol for the gradual opening of SNASPE, CONAF. Link
- Manual Leave No Trace. Link
- Regulations for the Management of Dogs and other Pets in the ASP. Link
- Cadastre of diseases present in wild animals, CONAF. Link
- © Richard Bezzaza / Gray Glacier, Torres de Paine, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica. Link