These are unprecedented times for all of us, say Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick and Kimberley Chamber President Brian Sondergaard, but the best thing to do is carry on as normally as we can, while taking proper precautions.
Obviously, that does not mean gathering in large groups, but it also doesn’t mean you can’t enter a store.
Kimberley is one of the best places on earth to be weathering this emergency, they say. Even though cases are low and show none in the Kootenay region, we need to be acutely aware of the risks and behave accordingly.
Sondergaard and McCormick dropped by the Bulletin office on Monday to talk about the extremely fluid situation and what Kimberley residents can do.
There are at risk groups. Kimberley’s senior population is above the provincial average, and the City and Chamber are asking for common sense steps. It is estimated there are about 1500 seniors in Kimberley.
Despite the fact, that Interior Health has not made an announcement regarding closing seniors care facilities, McCormick and Sondergaard say the best advice to follow would be to refrain from visits to care facilities at this time.
Another vulnerable group are snow birds returning from their winters in the south. For that group, self-quarantining is a must.
“Fourteen days is a very short period compared to the risks of spread,” McCormick said. “Obviously, in this region, enforced quarantine is not an option. You must self-quarantine. This is a huge responsibility.”
The other at risk group is those with compromised immune systems.
Social distancing and hygiene is important.
Frequent hand washing with soap or hand sanitizers with 70 per cent alcohol or higher is advised. Appropriate social distancing — avoiding groups of 50 or more — is also advised. And remember the World Health Organization says that 80 per cent of COVID19 infections are estimated to be mild.
Remember that tens of thousands of people have already recovered.
Sondergaard also advises against the panic shopping that has left some grocery and other store’s shelves bare over the weekend. The supply line is not broken, he says. Trucks will be coming in on schedule to restock those shelves. Hoarding is not necessary.
“What makes Kimberley great is its sense of community,” Sondergaard said. “We need to help each other through this.”
It’s important to support Kimberley’s small business community, he says.
“You must focus on hygiene, high risk or not, but you can still support local business. You’re not going to see anywhere near 50 people in a Kimberley store at any time. This will be resolved but we need our business community to survive it as well.”
Businesses are adapting. Most restaurants are now offering delivery service.
Both McCormick and Sondergaard say they have come across people doing neighbourhood grocery shops for those unable to get out. Keep up the neighbour helping neighbour philosophy, and don’t forget the Food Bank.
Kimberley’s main attraction is our beautiful natural environment. Don’t stop going outside.
McCormick says that the City is taking its direction from the provincial and federal health authorities. He says B.C.’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has been an absolute rock star thus far.
“If you don’t listen to anyone else, listen to her,” he said. “She is experienced and calm and she has brought so much stability to this situation.”
The City has made safety of its staff a priority. The second priority is to make sure City services remain available if conditions worsen. Arenas have been closed, as is the Aquatic Centre.
This is going to hurt the tourist economy, there is no doubt about it, both men say.
However, the ski resort was scheduled to close in a couple of weeks in any event, McCormick said. Supporting the small business community is one thing we can control in a time when we can’t control much.
“Do what you can control, around hygiene and proper social distancing. Stay calm. We will successfully ride this out.”