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Top doctor with Interior Health urging would-be visitors to stay away

Last Updated Apr 1, 2021 at 9:04 pm PDT

FILE - Big White. (Chad Harris, CityNews Photo)

Whistler Blackcomb will be closed until at least April 19 bringing ski season to an end

With the long weekend approaching, the top doctor with Interior Health is urging skiers to stay away from his region

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — The top doctor for the Interior Health region says he’s worried skiers who can’t go to Whistler will head to mountains near Kamloops and Kelowna over the long weekend.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Albert de Villiers is urging everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, to honour public health directives and stay local.

“We do not want to see two weeks after the long weekend some more cases and our hospitals or our ICUs getting overwhelmed, so we’re definitely asking people not to do that,” he says.

“Do not leave your area. Do not come from the Lower Mainland to Kelowna or to the Okanagan. It’s not a wise thing to do. Think about the whole of the community, we want to make sure we can protect people and this is not the way to do it.”

Whistler Blackcomb has been closed, bringing ski season to an end due to ongoing transmission in the resort municipality. The closure was one of the new “circuit breaker” measures announced by the province Monday amid surging case numbers.

De Villers says he is worried that a party at Big White could turn out to be a superspreader event.

“This happened on Monday, so we’ve got about 14 days to see the full impact of that, so probably by next week, we’ll be able to have some more information as to what actually happened there. If there was any spread,” he says.

Charley Victoria’s, the restaurant that hosted a large crowd of unmasked revellers, has had its lease terminated. De Villiers says further sanctions are possible now that WorkSafe BC and the police are investigating.

“We’re definitely not impressed with what happened, and there will probably be some other action taken, some enforcement action taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again because it’s disappointing.”