The new president of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce says she is confident businesses on the Peninsula are meeting their COVID-19 prevention measures as the government contemplates measures including limits on inter-provincial travel.
“We are faced with two opposing tensions — the need to keep our Island residents safe and the need to keep them employed,” said Katie Kroeker, responding to comments from Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).
“Tourism, transportation and hospitality are key sectors that keep our economy healthy, and yet by definition, it means welcoming people to the island which could lead to greater risk of COVID transmission,” she added.
During a virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon with Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, about U.S.-Canada relations in the wake of the pandemic and the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, Beatty said cutting B.C. off from the rest of Canada is not a good idea.
“What we need to do is to look to manage the disease, not to shut down our regions or to partition Canada more than it is already.”
His comments come after a conference call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several premiers, during which they discussed the issue of inter-provincial travel. B.C. Premier John Horgan later told media that a Maritime-style travel ban is unlikely for the province, voicing skepticism that such a policy was practical or legal.
While the province can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians, much of the current interprovincial travel is work-related and therefore cannot be restricted, said Horgan.
Kroeker’s comments reject a choice between reducing travel and public health. While many locals “resonate with the desire for a change of scenery and a break from being housebound,” Kroeker detects a “reflexive, opposing instinct” when thinking about non-locals spending time on the Saanich Peninsula.
“What has been problematic in the past, (have) been tourists who come to the Island thinking it is a safe place to holiday and loosen up their otherwise vigilant prevention practices.”
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