Provincial COVID-19 restrictions may be easing up, but the City of Trail is asking residents to exercise caution and patience while putting Phase 2 into effect.
Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin says the city’s plan will follow the same cautious provincial and federal guidelines, but will take a “customized” and “conservative, measured approach” when it begins opening facilities and parks starting mid-May.
BC Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that B.C. will slowly open up businesses, parks, other amenities and selected sports starting on May 14.
Horgan said provincial health policy has “slowed the growth of the virus and put us in a place for a safe restart of our economy.”
Horgan, Dr. Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix then outlined a four-phase plan to help get businesses open and B.C. residents back to work.
“It won’t be the flip of a switch,” said Horgan. “We’re going to be proceeding carefully, bit by bit, one step at a time.”
As for independent businesses, the province continues to outline protocol that retailers, restaurants, pubs, salons, and others must adopt before opening. Whether the city will oversee that remains uncertain.
“I am unsure at this point, if and how the city or bylaw will be engaged,” said Pasin. “With respect to overseeing the opening of businesses, or any business, including the city, we are going to have to be compliant with WorkSafe and WCB (Workers Compensation Board) standards for openings. So as the province rolls that information out each individual business really has to take accountablility and take the steps to comply.”
For instance, in late April, a group of restaurant owners were asked to submit a plan on how the industry could reopen safely.
The BC Restaurant and Food Services Association came up with a scenario on how businesses will have to adjust floor plans, seating arrangements and even the handling of cash. The proposal is currently before WorkSafeBC, and awaiting approval.
Henry has said that ensuring public trust is key. The proposed plan will also include a course that business owners and employees will have to take, and if passed, the establishent will place a sticker on its front window, a sign of compliance and safety.
“There are some people who are really ready to reopen and there are a lot that aren’t,” said the mayor. “We really need to be very careful. We need to be concerned about our employees, our citizens and take that really conservative, measured approach.”
Opening large facilities like the Riverfront Centre, aquatic centre, and Trail Memorial Centre will take a little more time.
Like many businesses, the city also will have to take into account budget considerations and the day-to-day operations and added expense under the new protocol, before whole-heartedly proceeding with reopening. The city also lost revenue due to the pandemic and froze taxes to help out residents, so it won’t have any extra capital going forward.
“Closing facilities in the city was a challenging task,” said Pasin. “So is opening, particularly when you’re looking at large facilities and implementing the safety measures that need to happen, and, really, the cleaning measures as well.”
She says city staff is working diligently behind the scenes to come up with plans to reopen municipal facilities, amenities, programs and outdoors spaces. These plans include enhanced operating protocols that demonstrate the highest level of continued COVID-19 preventative measures for employees and patrons.
Residents should respect all the protocols put in place and, with their cooperation, more steps can be taken. These measures will be posted at all sites as appropriate, and while many public spaces will be reopened not every business or park will open at the same time.
“We can’t go backwards now, we’ve worked too hard,” said Pasin.
“And, please be supportive and courteous so we can continue to protect everyone in our community.”