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

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Two arrested after attack at Vernon home

Police spotted around 43rd Avenue linked to Wednesday assault

Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton has been re-elected as Regional District of North Okanagan Chair Nov. 18, 2020. (Richard Rolke - Morning Star file)
North Okanagan district re-elects chair, vice-chair

Acton, Shatzko re-elected for third lap as chair, vice-chair

An Armstrong resident shared video of a beaver gnawing away on a stick to Facebook Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Robyn Civic Adnoh photo)
WATCH: Beaver gnaws away in Armstrong wetlands

A resident captured video of a beaver chewing happily in a local creek Friday

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
Kelowna hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced the Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Damage to window panes at the downtown Salmon Arm Askew’s location could still be seen on Dec. 4. It was apparently caused by a pellet gun overnight on Dec. 2. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Windows damaged by pellet gun at both Salmon Arm Askew’s locations

Window panes were shot multiple times overnight on Dec. 2.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

Most Read