OSOYOOS (NEWS 1130) — Despite health officials telling British Columbians not to travel over the long weekend, the mayor of Osoyoos says there’s been a recent increase in visitors to her city.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have been urging people in this province to forego non-essential travel amid a surge in COVOD-19 cases. In their statement Saturday — in which they reported back-to-back days of record-breaking new infections – they repeated this plea.
“We have seen too many cases of people travelling outside their health authority region and not using their layers of protection, leading to outbreaks and clusters in their home community,” they wrote.
“These outbreaks are avoidable, and right now we must stay within our local region — for the safety of your community and for others.”
Mayor Sue McKortoff says daytrippers may account for some of the unfamiliar faces she’s seeing around town, but not all.
“We definitely have more people in town than we normally do. Many of them I don’t recognize, so I would suspect that many of them are tourists,” she says.
“I do know that some of our hotels, for sure, are pretty full.”
Noting that there are people who own condos in the city who don’t live their full time, she says it’s possible those people are visiting. Golf courses and wineries have not been closed, and the weather is warm so McKortoff thinks some people are coming to enjoy these activities without staying overnight.
She’s been fielding inquiries about hotel stays from people who don’t live in British Columbia who are concerned about the province’s restrictions banning indoor dining.
“I also caution them that if they’re coming here, they absolutely need to understand what the provincial health officer has said, and they need to be respectful of our businesses and our residents in the town of Osoyoos. So, I’ve said please do your homework first,” she explains.
“That’s all I can do. I certainly can’t stand on the highways and tell people they have to go home, I’m not allowed to do that.”
However, McKortoff notes if there are tourists, they are generally following other guidelines.
“We’re okay at this point we’re certainly keeping an eye on things and our businesses are really good about asking people to wear masks. I know that a few people, anti-maskers, have been escorted out of businesses over the past while which is absolutely correct,” she says.
“We certainly ask people to look after themselves because when you look up yourself, and you do the right thing for you you’re also helping to protect your community.”
With files from Lisa Steacy