Recreational boaters advised to stay close to home amid COVID-19 restrictions this May long weekend. (Stu Salkled/Black Press Media)

Visits to vacation homes, boating trips off the table this long weekend: B.C. officials

COVID-19 restrictions may be easing, but British Columbians should stay close to home this Victoria Day

May long weekend is fast approaching with British Columbians looking forward to the province entering Phase Two in its multi-step re-opening plan amid COVID-19. But the government is putting its foot down on recreational boating trips and escaping to vacation homes.

“Now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation,” the province said in a statement Thursday (May 14).

Health officials are urging British Columbians to only use BC Ferries if for essential travel and only explore the outdoors within one’s own community.

Those hoping to visit their vacation home or cottage are also being asked to change their plans.

“Access to resources and health care may be more challenging in smaller communities if someone should become ill or if there’s a community outbreak,” the province said, adding that health resources are already strained in rural areas.

As of Thursday, most provincial parks are open to day-use only, offering access to beaches, trails, most picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches. However, overnight camping remains closed until June 1.

Officials are urging boaters to also “stay close to home” and avoid non-essential travel to other regions – particularly small First Nations communities along the coast which remain closed to visitors to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19. Boaters may not have access to fuel, supplies and other services while on the water.

Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts are being asked to be prepared before venturing into the wilderness, in order to keep search and rescue volunteers safe, as well as the use of personal protection equipment down.

In the first week of May, BC Search and Rescue Association recorded a 35-per-cent spike in calls compared to the same time last year.

ALSO READ: B.C. sees spike in search and rescue calls ahead of COVID-19 restrictions easing

The weekend doesn’t have to involve sitting around indoors, though.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has encouraged residents to begin opening up their “pandemic bubble,” if it is safe for them and their families, to no more than six people. She’s said that barbecues and spending time outdoors will be OK, so long as people keep two metres of physical distance and practise good hygiene.

“You need to commit to each other for the coming weeks and months that you’re going to protect each other and care for each other,” Henry said on Wednesday.

Small campfires are allowed but other burning prohibitions remain in place. Fires must not be larger than 0.5 metres in height or width. People who plan to light a campfire as they enjoy day-use activities at provincial parks and recreation sites must remember to fully extinguish it and ensure the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area.

Other activities include visiting the local farmer’s market in order to buy local.

“Though 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. “This includes staying home if you have any symptoms of illness, washing your hands frequently with soap and water and not touching your face.”

ALSO READ: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

Port McNeill mayor elected as Director at Large with UBCM

Gaby Wickstrom ran for one of five spots against 13 other candidates

Heiltsuk First Nation calling on DFO to close fish farms, citing wild salmon extinction risk

Wild salmon returns have broken low records, have many concerned about future of wild fish

Everyone should be aware of the Labour Day movement

My hat is off to Tyson Whitney for his article on Labour Day.

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read