FILE – In this photo taken May 17, 2020, B.C. and U.S. families meet at the border between the U.S. and Canada in Peace Arch Park, in Blaine, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

FILE – In this photo taken May 17, 2020, B.C. and U.S. families meet at the border between the U.S. and Canada in Peace Arch Park, in Blaine, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

The province’s top doctor had kind, but firm, words for British Columbians worried about out-of-province travellers in the coming weeks.

“For the most part, we need to take a step back and realize we may not know everybody’s backstory,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a press briefing on Monday (July 6).

Henry acknowledged that both the pandemic and the reopening process has been anxiety inducing for many, but said that British Columbians need to remain courteous to outside visitors. B.C. entered Phase 3, which allows for non-essential travel, nearly two weeks ago, although travel between provinces has never banned.

“We’ve all had to suffer and sacrifice to get through these last few months and it worries us when we see people who many not understand our risks and our anxieties and our fears,” she said.

“Sometimes that comes out as anger, and sometimes that comes out as intolerance”.

But Henry said B.C. residents need to “take a step back,” and realize they may not know why people with out-of-province, or even U.S., licence plates are here.

“We need to be open,” she said.

“It is perfectly valid for us to say ‘this is how we do things,’ in a gentle way, and model that behaviour.”

READ MORE: B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

Henry said however that the same expectations that British Columbians have lived under since March continue to apply to visitors, including physical distancing, masks where that is not possible and getting together only in small groups.

She also had a strict warning for Americans headed up north: “If you’re on your way to Alaska, you’re on your way to Alaska.”

Henry’s words came as the U.S. is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and multiple states are rolling back reopening plans.

Although opening the border to the U.S. is a federal responsibility, the top doctor said she was “very concerned” about cases south of border. The U.S. is at over 2.9 million total COVID-19 cases and more than 130,400 deaths, both about a quarter of global numbers. Canada is at nearly 106,000 cases as of Tuesday, and about 8,700 deaths. Of those, B.C. is home to just under 3,000 cases and 183 deaths.

“I cannot see vacation travel this summer from the U.S. given the rates that we’re seeing – and how widespread it is right now,” Henry said, adding that south of the border cases should serve as a warning about how hard it is to control the transmission of COVID-19 once it becomes widespread in communities.

“Even young healthy people can get very sick with this, and if you have lots of people sick then the probability of young people getting very sick and dying goes up dramatically,” she said. “We’ve seen that with some very young people who’ve died recently.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Clearwater Times editorial by Stephanie Hagenaars
Before we go patting ourselves on the back…

It’s been over a week since the United States Capitol was rushed… Continue reading

No one was injured when this 1989 Plymouth occupied by two young women burst into flames as they were travelling northbound on Highway 5 just after 2 a.m. This image originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 1996, issue of the Times.
25 Years Ago: No injuries in Highway 5 vehicle fire

Back in Time: A snapshot of history

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read