Many Vancouver Island residents are packing their bags and checking ferry schedules for summer sailings as B.C. prepares to lift its advisory on non-essential travel.
B.C. Premier John Horgan hinted that a decision to lift the provincial travel advisory is imminent, as coronavirus cases continue to taper off in the province. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been monitoring B.C.’s risk as schools and businesses reopen.
“I think the likelihood of us traveling inside of B.C. is very, very high,” Horgan said. “Dr. Henry wanted to wait for two incubation periods to make sure that the positive results we’ve been seeing over the past number of weeks continue. I think that we’re going to be hearing an announcement from government based on advice from Dr Henry and her team that internal travel can begin.”
Tourism-dependent businesses have issued dire warnings about being able to survive as restrictions have stretched toward three months. Destination B.C. has a provincewide marketing program ready to go, replacing the international promotion it usually runs, Horgan said.
B.C. does not have a travel ban within the province or from other provinces, but highway signs continue to advise essential travel only, and B.C. and Alberta health ministers have urged people to avoid travelling to summer homes during the pandemic.
Horgan held out little hope of any resumption of non-essential international visitors, key to many B.C. tourism operators in previous years. And he said the travel advisory reflects the reluctance of many people to travel beyond their local area.
“British Columbians need to get out, stretch their legs, go to other places, but they’re not feeling particularly comfortable about that just yet,” Horgan said. “We’ve had great results in B.C., but when you look at other parts of the country, in fact when you look just south of us in Washington, Oregon, and California, we’ve seen a spike in cases. As we’ve been going down, they’ve started to dial back up again.”
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