Provincial health authorities have “rapid response” plans for responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in rural and remote B.C. communities, but there is no move by the province to isolate communities looking to keep visitors and their potential viruses out.
After mayors in Tofino and Ucluelet made public pleas for visitors to stay away until the novel coronavirus pandemic subsides, Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen said he has heard from Gulf Islands residents who want the same for their isolated homes.
“Has the ministry considered barring or restricting access to isolate, rural and at-risk communities in a way that will allow them to continue to receive goods to sustain themselves but also that may stop the spread into those communities?” Olsen asked Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Dix didn’t answer directly, referring to local and regional plans for emergency preparedness in communities.
“No matter where you live, where it’s in Alert Bay or in Abbotsford, whether it’s in Vanderhoof or Vancouver, you can catch COVID-19, wherever you are, no matter what your age,” Dix said. “If you’re a teenager or you’re 60, you can pass on COVID-19.”
The latest community to call for no more visitors is Ucluelet, after increasing business restrictions led to the closure of resorts and other facilities.
A joint statement from the District of Ucluelet, the chamber of commerce and tourism officials referred to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s advice to Canadians to stay home except for essential travel. On March 18, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve between Ucluelet and Tofino closed beaches and bathrooms and suspended visitor services.