FILE – In this photo taken May 17, 2020, B.C. and U.S. families meet at the border between the U.S. and Canada in Peace Arch Park, in Blaine, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

The province’s top doctor had kind, but firm, words for British Columbians worried about out-of-province travellers in the coming weeks.

“For the most part, we need to take a step back and realize we may not know everybody’s backstory,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a press briefing on Monday (July 6).

Henry acknowledged that both the pandemic and the reopening process has been anxiety inducing for many, but said that British Columbians need to remain courteous to outside visitors. B.C. entered Phase 3, which allows for non-essential travel, nearly two weeks ago, although travel between provinces has never banned.

“We’ve all had to suffer and sacrifice to get through these last few months and it worries us when we see people who many not understand our risks and our anxieties and our fears,” she said.

“Sometimes that comes out as anger, and sometimes that comes out as intolerance”.

But Henry said B.C. residents need to “take a step back,” and realize they may not know why people with out-of-province, or even U.S., licence plates are here.

“We need to be open,” she said.

“It is perfectly valid for us to say ‘this is how we do things,’ in a gentle way, and model that behaviour.”

READ MORE: B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

Henry said however that the same expectations that British Columbians have lived under since March continue to apply to visitors, including physical distancing, masks where that is not possible and getting together only in small groups.

She also had a strict warning for Americans headed up north: “If you’re on your way to Alaska, you’re on your way to Alaska.”

Henry’s words came as the U.S. is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and multiple states are rolling back reopening plans.

Although opening the border to the U.S. is a federal responsibility, the top doctor said she was “very concerned” about cases south of border. The U.S. is at over 2.9 million total COVID-19 cases and more than 130,400 deaths, both about a quarter of global numbers. Canada is at nearly 106,000 cases as of Tuesday, and about 8,700 deaths. Of those, B.C. is home to just under 3,000 cases and 183 deaths.

“I cannot see vacation travel this summer from the U.S. given the rates that we’re seeing – and how widespread it is right now,” Henry said, adding that south of the border cases should serve as a warning about how hard it is to control the transmission of COVID-19 once it becomes widespread in communities.

“Even young healthy people can get very sick with this, and if you have lots of people sick then the probability of young people getting very sick and dying goes up dramatically,” she said. “We’ve seen that with some very young people who’ve died recently.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: New air carrier sought for Qualicum Beach Airport

Island Express Air ends operation due to pandemic

Parksville rider to join alumni for modified Tour de Rock

Roberts pleased to again be involved in Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer event

Qualicum Beach roundabout project would cost nearly $2M

Town to apply for funds to cover $1.79M of the total

Protesters in Parksville demand change to current B.C. forest practices

Approximately 50 people march along Island Highway

Town of Qualicum Beach defers discussions with preservation society regarding wetlands

CAO says registered covenant will protect land in perpetuity

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

COVID-19 skill loss will hurt global economic output for rest of century: survey

About one in seven Canadian students satisfied with transition toward online learning

Woodgrove Centre posts plans to make masks and temperature checks mandatory

Nanaimo mall advises in letter to customers that rules will come into effect Monday, Sept. 21

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Motor home burns up at north Nanaimo intersection

No one hurt in incident Friday morning at old Island Highway, Rutherford Road and Mostar Road

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Nanaimo residents ticketed for putting garbage bins out early

Conservation officers say they issued seven tickets this week, as concerns about bears increase

Most Read