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B.C.'s top doctor says COVID-19 clusters mean everyone needs to stay close to home

Last Updated Jan 30, 2021 at 10:01 am PST

Summary

Whistler emerging as province’s latest hotspot for COVID-19

B.C.'s top doctor admits she's worried about clusters in Whistler and Fernie

Dr. Bonnie Henry is reminding everyone to stay close to home for the family day weekend, through to spring break

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Cancel any plans to leave town for Family Day and even longer. B.C.’s provincial health officer says COVID-19 transmissions remain too high for her to consider relaxing restrictions anytime soon.

Dr. Bonnie Henry admits she’s worried about clusters in places like Fernie and Whistler which has recorded hundreds of cases this month.

“We have orders in place from the summer when we saw similar things happening around vacation properties in the Interior. Those orders say you can not have gatherings in rental properties. We need to step up our enforcement on some of that,” she says.

Earlier this week, Vancouver Coastal Health issued a warning to keep up COVID-19 protocols in Whistler after a spike in positive cases from Jan. 1 to the 26.

The Health Authority recorded 288 cases in Whistler, most involving people in their 20s and 30s, who live, work and socialize together.

Over the past week, six restaurants in the town have been added to the list of public exposures. Whistler experienced a similar spike back in November, which resolved by December.

READ MORE: As B.C. marks one year of COVID-19, Whistler has become one of the province’s latest hotspots 

As for Spring Break, Henry says, “It’s something that we’re going to have to do at home.”

“Day trips are less risky with your family, your household. If you’re somebody who works or has strong connections and lives partly in Whistler, then yes, that is your local ski hill,” she explains. “It’s not the skiing itself that seems to be the risk. It’s the things that we’re doing before and after. If we are staying over. Having people over.”

Starting Sunday, Canadian airlines will not be flying to Mexico or the Caribbean — after agreeing to ground planes at the federal government’s request.

And Henry says she and the province is actively discouraging people from other provinces coming to B.C. and also supportive of the international border measures.

“I think that’s fabulous. It’s going to protect us in this very critical few months where we don’t yet have enough people protected from this virus.”

The suspension of flights will last until the end of April.

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– With files from CityNews