As temperatures slowly rise in the Okanagan, it's still unclear what this year's tourist season will look like under COVID-19 conditions. But Dr. Bonnie Henry is hopeful she'll be encouraging British Columbians to travel around their own province come the summer.
During her daily press conference Saturday, Dr. Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, says her recommendations for the summer will depend largely on how the next few weeks look.
“If things continue to go well, and we take it carefully and we're mindful of the potential for outbreaks and we get to that point in the summer, then yes, I will be encouraging people to vacation at home in B.C., to experience what we have here and to support our local communities and businesses,” she said Saturday.
In the past, she's said she doesn't expect international travellers to be coming to B.C. any time soon. Canada's border with the United States will be closed to non-essential travel until at least June 21, but B.C.'s Health Minister Adrian Dix has said he expects it will need to stay closed for a significant time beyond that.
Dr. Henry, who's held four to five press conferences every week since March, in addition to her daily work managing the COVID-19 crisis in B.C. behind the scenes, added that she's excited to one day take her own vacation within the province.
“I'm looking forward to maybe getting a break some day and there's a number of places that I would like to go and spend some time and make sure that we can support our tourist-reliant industries as much as we can,” she said.
With Phase 2 of B.C,'s reopening beginning this past week, many restaurants and pubs are beginning to reopen under new measures, along with local wineries. Dr. Henry said if wineries are able to abide by the new guidelines to minimize the transmission of the virus, they're welcome to open.
“As long as they have their plans posted and they have them in place to make sure that they're meeting the guidelines that we have around numbers of people and distancing and that sort of thing, I can see them being able to open,” she said.
“There may be limitations, for example on tastings and things, so that would have to be worked to make sure that it meets the criteria.”
She said the first impact on COVID-19 cases, if any, from last week's partial reopening of businesses will start to become apparent next week.
- By Nicholas Johansen / Castanet
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