As spring weather begins to settle in and spring breaks draw near, Mayor Don McCormick and Kimberley Tourism director John Hamilton are urging local accomodators and businesses to maintain tight protocols to keep everyone safe.
“We expect it will be very busy,” Hamilton told the Bulletin. “We saw that the Family Week was very, very busy, so we expect more of the same for the spring break.”
Hamilton went on to say that the Family Day long weekend, as busy as it was, showed that Kimberley’s accommodators were able to do an excellent job enforcing the rules, and that overall the vast majority of guests in town were respectful of them.
Hotels made sure to pre-qualify their guests, ensuring people coming were coming with their own family bubble. If they were coming with a larger familial group, Hamilton said they were likely sold two or three hotel rooms, or two or three condo units, rather than one.
He said that everyone was very aware of the rules and these were strictly enforced by both WorkSafeBC and the Provincial Health Authority.
“The hotels were very aware of what the rules were to make sure that people, when they were going to arrive, they were aware of the rules and understood them and so in general, I think it was very good,” Hamilton said. “There were a couple of exceptions, people making a reservation for two people and turning up with ten, so the hotels had to deal with examples like that.”
Hamilton said he doesn’t think people are slacking off on following the rules despite being a year into the pandemic and warm weather approaching. Although demand for accommodation has been high, despite the restrictions on travelling, he said he believes 99 per cent of travellers are extremely well behaved, understanding and sticking to the rules.
Tourism Kimberley, the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor’s office, along with some of the city’s top accomodators have had meetings with the PHO to make sure everyone is on the same page, going into times like Family Day or spring break.
Hamilton said he’s sent out emails and letters to accomodators including Air BNB, who he’s said have been very cooperative in terms of making sure their members understand the rules.
“Everybody in Kimberley really has a desire to make sure that the community is safe and is doing all they can to make sure that the rules are followed,” he said. “And they’re very much on side to making sure that everything is copacetic.
“We certainly don’t want to have what happened in Fernie and we’ve been very aware to make sure that those rules are very strictly enforced.”
On Jan. 27 a cluster of 97 COVID cases was declared in Fernie, but the cluster was declared contained in mid-February after the city had no new cases since Jan. 31.
READ MORE: Fernie COVID-19 community cluster contained
Though Interior Health said most of the transmission in Fernie occurred at social events and gatherings, some cities like Kelowna have had COVID outbreaks happen at their ski resorts.
“A number of ski destinations have had COVID outbreaks — it’s not the ski hill that’s caused the problems, it’s the behaviour afterwards, sort of the apres ski with people gathering in parties,” Hamilton said. “We’ve been very good at trying to stop that from happening and I hope, fingers crossed, we get through Spring Break without any damage to the community.”
In a March 4 Facebook post, Mayor McCormick asked accomodators to keep tight protocols in place, not to book large groups and stick to family units. He asked visitors to forget parties and stick to their family bubble and reminded businesses to tighten up hand sanitizing and space allowance policies.
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With spring approaching, Hamilton’s advice reflected that of the mayor.
“They’re very very simple really,” he said. “Please only travel within your family bubble, that’s defined as your family household, try not to go outside your bubble, stick with your bubble, maintain social distancing, wash your hands and generally sort of follow the rules that are laid down by the hotels and I think everybody will be fine
“I just want to make sure that everybody is aware that there are expectations and they know the rules beforehand and if they’re in any way feeling sick, they do not come and they stay at home.”