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Visitors asked not to go to Tofino; town concerned about medical resources

Visitors already in Tofino have been asked to make plans to return home
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The District of Tofino, Tourism Victoria and the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce have all asked visitors to stay away for several weeks. Photo: Unsplash

Authorities in Tofino have asked visitors to postpone any imminent trips to the town on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The District of Tofino, Tourism Victoria and the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce have all asked visitors to stay away for several weeks. Visitors already in town have been asked to make plans to return home.

Shane Richards, chairman of Tourism Tofino, said the move, extraordinary for a tourist town like Tofino, is necessary to ensure the limited medical resources in Tofino are not overwhelmed.

“This decision is extremely difficult,” said Richards in a telephone interview. “It’s tough for the local economy, for sure.

“But there is concern about the resources that are available at our hospital. We now have residents and we have guests coming to town and we may not be able to deal with those two demographics at once.”

Tofino has a small general hospital with 10 beds listed on the Island Health website as acute medical beds.

Richards said Tofino has no plans to erect signs or barricades across the road to keep people out. Essential services and supplies for locals will still be expected.

Services such as hotels and other businesses are contacting expected guests and asking them to postpone.

Read more from the Times Colonist