British Columbia is heading into Phase 3.
Premier John Horgan announced plans for the province to move into the third phase of its restart plan.
The new phase allows for non-essential travel within the province and for hotels, resorts, RV parks and other accommodations to resume operating, as well as some overnight camping.
“As we carefully turn up the dial on our activity, we can now look to travel safely around the province,” Horgan said.
“But as we hit the open roads this summer, we must remember we are not leaving COVID-19 behind, and we need to continue to do our part to bend the curve and protect the progress we’ve made.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says British Columbians must have a travel plan that ensures they can physically distance and follow other health advice.
The province says if people are feeling sick, they should not travel.
“Like other activities during our COVID-19 pandemic, summer holidays and travel will be different this year,” Horgan said.
“We are asking British Columbians to be respectful of the communities you travel to and do your research before you leave. We will help people get the tools and information they need to navigate this new normal safely.”
Horgan says travellers must respect travel advisories to remote communities. The province is working with Indigenous communities to establish guidelines for communities that do not want visitors.
On Salt Spring Island, some residents and business owners have mixed feelings about the latest phase of the province’s recovery plans.
Electoral area director Gary Holman says some locals in the small community are worried about visitors.
“There is some ambivalence,” he said. “In general, I’d say businesses are anxious to see visitors again.”
He says a bigger concern is U.S. sailors who have been showing up recently despite current U.S.-Canada border restrictions.
“I think the feelings are even less mixed about American visitors,” he said. “With businesses I’ve heard stories of Americans being refused service, which is really quite remarkable.”
“We feel it’s disrespectful quite honestly, disrespectful of what the rules are supposed to be and disrespectful in terms of regard for your neighbours’ health.”
The province is also making a big push for the film sector to return under health guidelines.
“Compared to Hollywood, Hollywood North is looking pretty good on the health front,” Horgan said.
A coalition of Indigenous leaders is raising concerns about the province’s move to Phase 3.
The group says the province failed to consult on reopening and provide adequate COVID-19 safety measures for Indigenous communities.
Many Indigenous communities are hoping to keep travellers out of their communities until there is greater COVID-19 information sharing and screening non-residents to ensure travellers are not symptomatic or infected with the virus.
“The premier cannot forget our free, prior and informed consent over our territories, and that we have not given our consent to open up the province,” President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Judith Sayers said.
“We will do what we need to in order to protect our people, and if there is an impasse, we need to talk. For us, it is people before economics.”
— With files from Emily Lazatin
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