FORT ST. JOHN (NEWS 1130) — Some politicians are calling for the province to say goodbye to province-wide restrictions considering most COVID-19 cases are in the Lower Mainland.
To prevent further spread of the virus, B.C. implemented indoor dining restrictions limiting them to take-out and patio service until at least April 19. And just a few days after the announcement, the province broke its daily COVID-19 record by reporting 1,013 infections.
However, a majority of the cases continue to be recorded in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions. This is why Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says, “one size doesn’t fit all.”
Cobb says the virus isn’t a problem in his area, so restrictions should be region-by-region.
“To me, it’s so way overkill we’re not having those same issues up here with the constant outbreaks,” he says. “It’s going to be devastating for small business. So, I’m seriously hoping that the government will give some kind of a top-up for their E.I. (emergency insurance) or whatever they need to do for this period of time for those workers that got mortgages, rent [or] car payments.”
Cobb adds it was particularly devastating the government gave less than a day’s notice for restaurant workers and bar operators to shut down.
The mayor of Fort St. John, Lori Ackerman, is also expressing frustration.
“I still have snow here,” she says.
Apart from pulling out the winter coats and boots to adhere to the indoor restaurant restrictions, Ackerman adds, the regulations have had no benefit to the community.
She also echoes concerns Cobb has regarding transparency from the province. She says because of a lack of communication, she is unsure about how concerning the virus is to Fort St. John.
“There’s been no conversation with communities.”
Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt says his phone has been “ringing off the hook” with calls from restaurateurs who say they were caught off guard by the restrictions, and have been left with food that they will not be able to sell or serve.
“It’s devastating our restaurants, we were just starting to get recovered although they were still on limited capacity, they were starting to do a lot better. Then these restrictions hit it’s devastating,” he says.
“I’m really, really disappointed in Dr. [Bonnie] Henry, Adrian Dix, and Premier Horgan. They’re making all these rules, but they don’t give us the facts.”
Pratt says he doesn’t know how many cases there are in his city, and how many may be linked to indoor dining.
He also favours region-specific restrictions.
“That’s the only solution,” he says. “I mean, the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley — they have way more cases than the rural B.C.”
On the other hand, the mayor of Terrace, Carol Leclerc, believes the restrictions are fair.
“We’ve been down this road again and we’ll go down it again,” she says.
Since the restrictions have an estimated end date, Leclerc says, “it makes it a little bit easier psychologically for people.”
“If you’ve got the same protocols for everybody in place for three weeks — we can all hunker down and look after each other.”