B.C. transportation ministry highway advisory sign, May 2020. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)

B.C. transportation ministry highway advisory sign, May 2020. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)

Latest COVID-19 travel advice another blow to B.C. tourism

Travel’s not the problem, behaviour is, industry group says

Public health advice to again stop non-essential travel to and around B.C. is the latest blow to a tourism industry struggling to keep going with domestic business and strict precautions to protect customers and staff from COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry renewed that advice this week as B.C. recorded its fourth straight day with more than 600 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed across the province. The latest wave of cases means B.C. residents have to go back to their initial precautions from the early days of the pandemic this spring, Henry says. The Tourism Industry Association of B.C., representing the hardest-hit sector of the economy, was quick to respond.

“While we recognize the province’s request to curtail non-essential travel, we’re concerned that tourism operators will again bear the brunt of the impact,” TIABC board chair Vivek Sharma said in a bulletin to members. “It’s important to note that travel is not the culprit for increasing transmission rates, but rather people’s behaviour. That’s where we need to step up our efforts.”

Henry’s latest restrictions are focused on the sharply increased infection rates in the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver, with non-essential travel to and from the province’s most densely populated region targeted first. With cases still running at record highs after the first week of restrictions on private gatherings, indoor fitness classes and other activities deemed high risk, Henry called for the effort to be expanded.

“We have asked for only essential travel to be considered to and from the areas where we are seeing most transmission in the communities, but I call upon people across the province,” Henry said in a pandemic briefing from the B.C. legislature Nov. 16. “Now is not the time to travel for recreation or non-essential purposes, whether it’s from the Lower Mainland to the Island, whether it’s between the Interior and the North, whether it’s to and from other provinces in Canada.”

RELATED: Dr. Henry clarifies health orders for schools, socializing

RELATED: Dr. Henry says B.C. ‘mask mandate’ already in place

The B.C. government’s priority is on keeping schools and businesses operating as normally as possible, and protecting the health care system. As of Monday there were 11 new outbreaks declared in health care facilities, for a total of 52 active, with 45 of those in long-term care facilities centred mainly in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions.

Public health “guidance” documents posted last week repeatedly note that there is no public health order barring travel within the province, just as there is no province-wide order to wear masks in public.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A scratch was visible on Bryson Belmas’ neck after an incident at school. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge mother says school not doing enough for bullied son

Ashley Belmas meeting with school officials at Laity View Elementary on Tuesday, Mar. 2

The group opposing CP Rail’s proposed logistics park in Pitt Meadows has gathered signs and other materials to rally opposition. (Special to The News)
Pitt Meadows challenges CP’s process for choosing logistics park site

Site evaluation was ‘fundamentally flawed in its methodology’ asserts city

A group of tenancy advocates picketed outside the home of CWI managing principal, Bill Mitsui on Saturday, Feb 27. (Special to The News)
Housing advocates picket outside West Vancouver home of Maple Ridge apartment building landlord

Joyce Lachance said her son was unfairly evicted from Cityviews Village in February

After a routine rescue of an injured hiker, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue noted there have been four injury rescues on well-groomed trails in recent months. (Special to The News)
Injured hiker rescued from Golden Ears park

Be prepared in the backcountry, warns Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue

Steven Powell will fix up the recovered three-wheeler and donate it. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Maple Ridge man’s stolen trike recovered

Community Safety Officers found the bike outside downtown Tim Hortons after receiving multiple tips

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Surrey officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read