BC government urging people to "stay local" this long weekend

May 14 2020, 5:53 pm

As the May long weekend approaches, the BC government is reminding people to avoid all non-essential travel in the province to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and instead stay local if they do decide to enjoy the outdoors.

Although some restrictions are expected to ease next week, “it remains vital for everyone to maintain physical distancing and take other important measures to limit the spread of COVID-19,” the province said in a release.

“Now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation… or to travel to secondary homes or vacation properties in other communities,” the province said. “By continuing to avoid non-essential travel, British Columbians can do their part to protect vulnerable people in communities from COVID-19.”

As of today (May 14), all provincial campgrounds remain closed and most provincial parks, recreation sites and trails are open for day-use only. Access to beaches, trails, most picnic areas and washroom facilities, and boat launches are permitted. However, in keeping with public health guidelines around non-essential travel, people are urged to only visit parks and recreation sites close to their home and avoid travelling to small communities. The province said that even after today, “some parks will remain closed due to potential challenges with high numbers of anticipated visitors.”

Recreational mariners are also being reminded to avoid non-essential trips on the water and stay close to home. “Each call search-and-rescue specialists respond to puts them at risk of exposure to COVID-19, as well as requiring them to use precious supplies of personal protective equipment,” the province said.

As well, “boaters should be aware that some small coastal First Nations communities have closed their villages to visitors to protect themselves from COVID-19, so boaters may not have access to fuel, supplies and other services.”

And once again, BC Ferries is urging people to avoid all non-essesntial travel this long weekend.

“In keeping with direction provided by the Province of British Columbia last week, we continue to advise customers to avoid non-essential travel at this time,” said BC Ferries in a statement. “We are dedicated to providing a safe and healthy travel experience for passengers and employees.”

For those that do need to travel, “additional measures have been put in place to keep customers and crew healthy and safe including limiting passenger capacity by 50% to support physical distancing, allowing customers to remain in their vehicles during the sailing and enhanced cleaning.”

All food (including vending machines) and retail outlets at terminals and onboard all ships are closed until further notice, the company noted.

BC Ferries added that many of the coastal communities it serves “have issued advisories to travellers notifying them of limited supplies, healthcare equipment, and resources.”

These communities, they said, include Haida Gwaii, Southern Gulf Islands, Northern Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast.