Tourism issues joint statement asking people to stay local and bend the curve

Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport; Richard Porges, interim president and CEO, Destination BC; Brenda Baptiste, chair, Indigenous Tourism BC; Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of BC; and Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO, BC Hotel Association have released the following statement asking all British Columbians to stay local unless travel is absolutely essential:

“As the number of people with COVID-19 in BC continues to rise, we are asking British Columbians not to travel outside their local communities to help stop further spread of the virus.

“People working at hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, transportation services, attractions, adventure tourism operators, Indigenous travel providers, restaurants, bars, cafes and many other travel-related businesses throughout the province are struggling following a difficult year of border closures and non-essential travel restrictions. While the tourism and hospitality sector has done an amazing job implementing rigorous health and safety pans to keep their staff and visitors safe, COVID-19 takes every opportunity to spread. Unnecessary travel is too risky right now.

“We ask British Columbians to listen to Dr. Henry and follow all provincial health and solicitor general orders.

“Each of us must make the difficult decision in our daily lives to do the right thing. We cannot gather indoors with people outside our immediate households, and we must avoid travel for leisure so we can bend the curve down again. The many people and businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry in BC need each of us to follow the rules without exception. Their livelihood depends on us all doing our part now, so some travel can safely resume this summer and set these businesses on the road to recovery. 
“Let’s support local businesses today by ordering takeout, eating with our immediate household on a patio, picking up a coffee and enjoying it at a local park, visiting a local attraction or booking a staycation at a local hotel. Now is not the time to travel for leisure and risk spreading COVID-19.

“The list of essential travel activities, which are permitted between regional zones, is included under the emergency program order, available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/24287.

“At this time, we must listen to local communities that do not wish to welcome visitors yet. We have heard from many communities that are worried about the virus and its impact on their residents and healthcare services, and have asked people not to visit. We must respect the wishes of Indigenous communities and First Nations given the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19. Know before you go is a great resource if you have any questions: www.hellobc.com/know-before-you-go.

“We are at a pivotal moment in our province and we must act now to protect the healthcare system. We must stay local now so we can get back to travelling across our beautiful province and once again welcome visitors. 

“Help us spread the message: #WeAreAllConnected; #StayLocalSupportLocal; #BCTourismCounts; #SaveOurSummer.


Contact:
Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport
Media Relations
250.208.4309

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect.

New Provincial Restrictions Announced to Help Save Our Summer

Current Information as of April 23, 2021

Today, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth provided additional detail of increased travel restrictions for non-essential travel in BC through May 25th announced last Monday by BC Premier John Horgan, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The expansion to the previous travel advisory through the implementation of Ministerial Order No. M1721 is aimed at reducing the rapid spread of COVID-19 and variants of concern by focusing on restricting the movement of people into and within the province. British Columbians are asked to stay local and stay in your community. Do not travel for non-essential reasons.

Travel Regions:

The Order combines British Columbia’s five health authorities into three regions of the province. Travel into and out of the regions for non-essential reasons is not allowed and is now regulated by law. The regions are:

  1. Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley (Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health)
  2. Northern/Interior (Northern Health and Interior Health, including Bella Coola Valley, the Central Coast and Hope)
    1. Residents from the Hope area can travel to Chilliwack for essential goods and supplies
    2. Residents from the Bella Coola Valley and Central Coast area can travel to Port Hardy for essential goods and supplies
  3. Vancouver Island (Vancouver Island Health)

Enforcement

The Order will be in effect from April 23 through May 25, 2021 and applies to everyone in the province, including non-essential travellers from outside the province. If the travel restrictions need to be enforced through periodic road checks, police can issue a fine of $575 at their discretion. Police will not be doing random checks.

Additional Measures:

  • Tourism operators, including golf courses, have been asked to voluntarily refuse new reservations from customers outside their regional zones and cancelling existing bookings from outside their regional zones until after the May long weekend at midnight May 25th;
  • BC Ferries will restrict non-essential vehicle passage, deter non-essential bookings and limit sailings;
  • BC Parks will inform the public about restrictions and refund bookings where necessary;
  • The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure will increase signage posted at the BC-Alberta border reminding residents to avoid non-essential travel;
  • The “Circuit Breaker” restrictions affecting indoor dining at golf courses have been extended and will remain in effect until at least May 25th;
  • BC government relief programs will also be extended for this period;
  • Golf (Tournaments) have been included in Group Sports restrictions;
  • And as a reminder, a maximum of 10 people may engage in outdoor sports with one another.

The Goal:

How British Columbians collectively act today, and over the next five weeks, will impact whether travel will be possible this summer and whether further restrictions are required. Dr. Henry indicated in announcing the extension of restrictions that the province of British Columbia will have vaccinated 60% of all adults and the protection will be high enough to ‘save the summer’. Premier Horgan noted that the new rules are not designed to put more stress on struggling tourism operators and that the government will continue to work collaboratively with the sector.

Resources to Help Golf Course Operators:

In anticipation of this announcement, Destination BC, Tourism Industry Association of BC, BC Hotel Association and Indigenous Tourism BC have developed a Communications Toolkit that includes key messaging, a Q & A and other resources to help the tourism industry handle these restrictions.

The Allied Golf Association – BC will continue to bring you information as it becomes available.