The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says the province’s inconsistent approach to COVID-19 and vaccinations, where capacity limits is concerned, is negatively affecting North Okanagan businesses.
While capacity limits have been lifted in all other parts of B.C., Interior Health (IH) has continued its limit of 50 per cent capacity for sporting events, theatres and other indoor venues.
“We are extremely concerned about the disparities between regions and we are calling on MLA Harwinder Sandhu and Health Minister Adrian Dix to take steps that ensure public health while allowing economic recovery to continue,” said Robin Cardew, Greater Vernon Chamber president.
“We appreciate that Interior Health’s protocols are based on low vaccination rates in the Interior and the potential spread of COVID, but the same situation exists in other health regions. If patrons to an event must be double-vaccinated and wear a mask, all communities in B.C. should be treated equitably when it comes to capacity. At a minimum, Interior Health and the government need to provide a benchmark so businesses know what level of cases must be reached before capacity limits shift.”
IH was expected to announce an update on capacity limits Oct. 22, but no update has been released as of Wednesday, Oct. 27. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry indicated Oct. 26 that a decision on IH capacity limits could occur within the coming week.
For now, IH’s capacity limits of 50 per cent remain for indoor sporting events, concerts and movie theatres.
“How is someone attending a Vernon Vipers game or a concert at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre more at risk than someone pursuing those activities in Vancouver or Victoria if they all wear masks and show their vaccination passports?” said Cardew.
“Business owners and non-profits have taken significant measures to provide a safe environment for their patrons and staff, while navigating the financial challenges COVID-19 has created since spring 2020. They require a consistent set of rules and not a patchwork of protocols based on lines on a map. We would urge business owners and residents to contact the provincial government to express concerns about the two-tiered restrictions in B.C. and insist that recovery for all regions must be a priority.”