Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Easing COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions for B.C. regions with few infections is not on the table this summer, Premier John Horgan says.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wrote to Horgan June 2 urging him and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to consider if the province can “accelerate reopening parts of the province with low case counts when it is safe to do so” to help struggling tourism and other businesses.

Wilkinson specified the Okanagan, the Kootenays, Northern B.C. and Vancouver Island, the latter of which hasn’t seen a new positive test for the coronavirus in almost a month. Tourism in those regions has been severely affected, with some businesses saying they may not be around for B.C.’s third phase of pandemic restriction easing, which may be near the end of the summer tourism season.

“It’s clear, based on the evidence, that some regions and industries have been hit harder than others across the province,” Wilkinson said.

Asked about the suggestion June 3, Horgan said he has heard it for some weeks as B.C.’s case count has fallen to low levels, with most infection in the Lower Mainland. He said Henry has been clear on it.

“She’s been pretty categorical that the virus is everywhere in B.C.,” Horgan said. “There is not one part of the province that is less susceptible to outbreak if we don’t follow the directions that have been laid out by public health officials. And we have opened up our campsites. They’re going to see more and more travel throughout the summer as we get towards phase three. And we’ll see tourism, domestic tourism, I think, pick up and, in fact, break records as British Columbians stay home and enjoy the beauty and the splendours of every corner of the province.”

The earliest B.C. could see additional travel is later in June, only if the spread of infection doesn’t show signs of picking up from the reopening of pubs, restaurants, libraries and personal service businesses that are permitted in phase two, he said.

“If people want to book arrangements at their favourite place in B.C, you can certainly do that now, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get there,” Horgan said. “We have had success in B.C. because people have done this together, and although I absolutely understand that people are going to want to go and move around, and I absolutely understand that tourism operators want to see that happen, it wasn’t that long ago that leaders in tourism-dependent communities were saying stay home.”

RELATED: Restrictions could ease by end of June, Henry says

RELATED: COVID-19 tests ‘don’t replace physical distancing’

@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Just Posted

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read