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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

West Kootenay mother searching for son missing since Sept. 1

Police are investigating the disappearance of Cory Westcott

Students/staff evacuate Rossland Summit School due to smell of smoke

SD20 says students in different learning groups didn’t come in contact with each other in evacuation

Man whose crime spree began in Nelson pleads guilty in death of female passenger

Anthony Cortez scheduled to be sentenced for 2017 incidents

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

B.C. marriage annulled because husband was unable to have sex with wife

Husband did not disclose any sexual health concerns to his wife prior to marriage

White Rock’s namesake spray-painted with Black Lives Matter slogan

Vandalism occurred sometime between Friday and Saturday

B.C. VOTES 2020: B.C. Liberals vow to eliminate sales tax for a year

From 7% to zero, then back in at 3% to stimulate economy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The holiday everyone needs this year: Vote for your favourite in Fat Bear Week 2020

Voters will get to decide who gets to take home this year’s most coveted prize

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

Most Read