Further details on travel restrictions are expected from Solicitor General Mike Farnworth on Friday, April 23, 2021.
Premier John Horgan said Monday road checks will be implemented to “audit” whether people are travelling outside their local health region, and signs will be placed at Alberta border crossings to notify people that B.C. expects essential travel only.
Campground and other tourism accommodation operators have agreed to refuse bookings from out-of-region customers until after the May long weekend, and B.C. Ferries will refuse reservations for recreational vehicles and cancel extra sailings for the Victoria Day weekend, which is traditionally seen as the start of camping season.
Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick says that the city made the decision 14 months ago to abide by all provincial health orders, and that is what the city will continue to do.
However, he does wish that the province would focus further on getting everyone vaccinated.
“It’s unfortunate that they continue to focus on restrictions at a time when we’re into vaccinations. Because vaccinations are how we are going to get out of it,” he said.
He also says there continues to be an issue around what is an order and what is a recommendation.
“The majority of restrictions have been recommendations, and we at the city of Kimberley have chosen to focus on behaviour,” McCormick said. “And it has worked well. We have had very few cases and we continue to be in good condition. We need to continue to focus on the basic protocols because they work.”
As for the travel restrictions, which will remain in place until the May long weekend, McCormick says that for Kimberley, the timing is decent.
“From the time the ski hill closes to the long weekend, it’s our shoulder season. Traffic in town is noticeably down. This is a time of low activity. Because we’re in shoulder season, the guidelines won’t have a material impact.”
He says there’s to point in worrying now that the guidelines remain in place past the May long weekend.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said. “Speculation is not productive.”
However, he does want to reiterate that no one should jump to conclusions when they see an Alberta license plate.
“There are many different reasons that there may be Alberta license plates in town. There are people living here full time who haven’t changed their plates yet — although I urge them to do so. There are secondary home owners who have chosen to live here through the pandemic. There are a lot of construction workers and trades people from Alberta.
“So the fact that you see an Alberta plate does not mean that person is flaunting restrictions.”
McCormick says the greater concern is the fact that certain residents in town are continuing to gather at social gatherings and parties.
“The increase in cases last week is directly linked to these social gatherings,” he said.
As for the orders likely coming on Friday, he says the city will comply with them and encourage everyone to the same.
Kimberley Chamber of Commerce Manager Daniel Holden says it’s not the greatest situation but it can’t be helped.
“It’s the same stuff we’ve been dealing with. We need a regional approach, not a provincial approach. We’re economically tied to Alberta far more than we are Victoria or Vancouver, and it really affects the border communities a lot more than it does Kamloops. Not saying it’s not needed and it should have been done in July last year like it was done in other countries, but it’s disappointing. These things keep coming up just as we’re going into our busier times. Provincially based and not regionally based and it’s not based on how you’re going, it’s based on how the Lower Mainland’s going. We’ll hopefully get through it and hopefully it just means more B.C. tourists, more local tourists, more people coming in the area from within our health region and spending money and would normally not be able to get camping spots or holiday spots or tee times or whatever and now they can. So hopefully that sort of cancels out, but yeah it’s not the best.
With a file from Paul Rodgers