Tri-City residents looking to get out of town this summer can do so with the blessing of Premier John Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer.
In a press conference, the two officially announced Phase 3 of the province’s restart plan but said it will be gradual, cautious and require respect for others when visiting other towns.
“The is going to be a different summer,” said Dr. Henry, acknowledging that British Columbians will have to continue to do the behaviour that has helped the province flatten the COVID-19 curve over the last several months.
It will continue to be important to keep groups small to reduce the spread and to maintain the “health capacity to follow up on every case and follow up quickly and suppress any clusters that arise so that we don’t have any rapidly increasing cases,” Dr. Henry said.
Horgan acknowledged that it’s a challenge to find places in B.C. to visit and suggested some resorts and hotels might be able to open up capacity now that COVID-19 cases have been reduced and phase 3 is in place while there are still camping spots to be found if one is persistent.
He suggested visiting the heritage area of Barkerville as one idea.
When asked if B.C. is too close to a “tipping point” for opening up, both Horgan and Dr. Henry said B.C. is in a good place and the risk can be managed if people continue to social distance, wash hands frequently and stay home if sick.
The opening up of the province to tourism comes as COVID-19 modelling shows B.C. has small numbers of cases, especially compared to other regions of Canada and the U.S.
However Henry said people shouldn’t take the new phase as an opportunity to expand their bubble.
“This is not the summer for the big family reunion at the cottage,” she said, pointing out that British Columbians have worked hard to earn a vacation and that “we are at the point where we need social interaction we need to have our economic engines going.”
In its re-start plan, the province has outlined a number of tips to keep in mind.
They are as follows:
• pre-trip planning and research on available resources at arriving destination;
• respecting any local travel advisories to isolated and remote communities;
• no travelling for anyone who is sick, and if symptoms develop while travelling - self isolate immediately and contact 811 for guidance and testing;
• practising safe physical distancing of two metres at all times;
• spending time in small groups and open spaces; and
• practising good hygiene, including frequent handwashing and cleaning.
For more information about Phase 3, visit here.