Many parks and trails of Vancouver Island are open, but remain subject to social distancing orders. Islanders are asked to stay close to home and avoid congregating in them this Easter weekend. (John McKinley file)

Many parks and trails of Vancouver Island are open, but remain subject to social distancing orders. Islanders are asked to stay close to home and avoid congregating in them this Easter weekend. (John McKinley file)

Officials ask for continued COVID-19 vigilance over Easter weekend

Warmer weather, Easter holidays, create fears Islanders may become lax in their social distancing

Easter might normally be prime time for feasting and family time.

But not this year. Not on Vancouver Island, or pretty much anywhere else in Canada.

With warm weather and a lot of repressed socializing threatening to coincide thins coming holiday weekend, public health officials remain united in their plea to the public to stay committed to flattening the curve.

“The health care system in British Columbia has not been overwhelmed to date, and our numbers in the Island Health region show that what we have been doing has had an effect,” said Dr. Shannon Waters, medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley region.

“But we need to continue to be vigilant in following physical distancing and other measures to ensure the response efforts of our front-line workers can continue at the highest capacity possible.”

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As B.C.’s new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus continue to slow, Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have issued warnings that people should not make travel and gathering plans for the Easter long weekend.

With Passover and Ramadan also approaching, Premier John Horgan took part in a second call with 130 religious leaders around the province April 7, to reinforce the need to avoid physical gatherings. The province announced 25 new positive tests, bringing the total for B.C. to 1,291, with 805 fully recovered.

“So let’s bend the curve, not bend the rules this weekend,” Dix said at the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing at the B.C. legislature.

Communities across Vancouver Island remain subject to a number of provincial public health orders.

They include self-isolating if you are sick, even with symptoms other than COVID-19, maintaining a two-metre distance from others in all public spaces, restrictions on open burning of yard waste and debris, and staying home as much as possible and not visiting friends and family — even for the holiday.

And those orders include staying home whenever possible, which means hopping in your car for a jaunt up- or down-Island should also be out.

“Cowichan is a region where people come to vacation and recreate, but this is not a time where we can support an influx of visitors to our parks and trails or vacation properties,” said Aaron Stone, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. “We’re asking that if your primary residence is not in the Cowichan Valley, please do not plan activities or trips to our region during this critical time.”

Many parks and trails across most of the Island remain open, though many park facilities continue to be closed. Users are reminded to adhere to posted signs for the safe and respectful enjoyment of everyone.

Failure to comply with provincial emergency orders can carry fines of more than $25,000 or jail time.

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— with a file from Tom Fletcher

CoronavirusCowichan Valley Regional District