Editorial: Please don’t travel for the holidays

You are in control of what this province will look like come New Year’s Eve

If we’ve been told once, we’ve been told it a million times: don’t travel.

Normally, the world would be in the midst of the busiest travel season of the year. While travel is down, it’s estimated that 50.6 million Americans travelled for their Thanksgiving holiday. Many of them travelled by car, however the TSA said it screened 9.4 million people for air travel during the holiday window. The holiday marked the busiest day of travel in the U.S. since mid-March.

It’s easy to throw the first stone and chastize Americans for travelling, but Canadians are travelling too, and it’s a problem.

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According to Island Health, at least 86 of the Island’s COVID-19 cases were people who travelled. There are now more than 500 Vancouver Islanders in self isolation after being exposed to COVID-19.

Let’s wax nostalgic about the early days of the pandemic for a moment. Back in the spring, roads were void of cars. Air travel had ground to a halt. BC Ferries closed multiple ferry terminals for as long as two months. People cancelled their trips, and stayed home as much as possible. On March 19, there were 22 total cases in the Island Health region. And for much of the summer — thanks in large part to those travel sacrifices — Islanders flattened the curve to zero active cases.

Fast forward to November 30: there are 236 active cases of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island. 141 of those cases are in the Central Island region — far beyond the 58 cases in the South Island region, and 37 cases in the North Island region.

COVID-19 was no spring-fling. It is a real, present, and worsening crisis. Vaccines remain months away, and COVID-19 is here in Island communities right now.

After all the sacrifices and hardships, all the 7 p.m. cheers for front line workers, all of the lives lost to this horrific virus, to take a non-essential trip now is a slap in the face.

As it stands now, communities don’t need to shut down like they did in the spring. But, if people don’t start taking COVID-19 seriously again, communities may be forced to shut down again. B.C. has already seen strict public health measures that prohibit gatherings, and mandate masks in all public spaces.

Personal choices matter. British Columbians are in control of what this province will look like at the end of December. It is imperative that British Columbians limit their travel, reduce their contacts, and stay safe this holiday season.

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