Recreational boaters advised to stay close to home amid COVID-19 restrictions this May long weekend. (Stu Salkled/Black Press Media)

Visits to vacation homes, boating trips off the table this long weekend: B.C. officials

COVID-19 restrictions may be easing, but British Columbians should stay close to home this Victoria Day

May long weekend is fast approaching with British Columbians looking forward to the province entering Phase Two in its multi-step re-opening plan amid COVID-19. But the government is putting its foot down on recreational boating trips and escaping to vacation homes.

“Now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation,” the province said in a statement Thursday (May 14).

Health officials are urging British Columbians to only use BC Ferries if for essential travel and only explore the outdoors within one’s own community.

Those hoping to visit their vacation home or cottage are also being asked to change their plans.

“Access to resources and health care may be more challenging in smaller communities if someone should become ill or if there’s a community outbreak,” the province said, adding that health resources are already strained in rural areas.

As of Thursday, most provincial parks are open to day-use only, offering access to beaches, trails, most picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches. However, overnight camping remains closed until June 1.

Officials are urging boaters to also “stay close to home” and avoid non-essential travel to other regions – particularly small First Nations communities along the coast which remain closed to visitors to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19. Boaters may not have access to fuel, supplies and other services while on the water.

Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts are being asked to be prepared before venturing into the wilderness, in order to keep search and rescue volunteers safe, as well as the use of personal protection equipment down.

In the first week of May, BC Search and Rescue Association recorded a 35-per-cent spike in calls compared to the same time last year.

ALSO READ: B.C. sees spike in search and rescue calls ahead of COVID-19 restrictions easing

The weekend doesn’t have to involve sitting around indoors, though.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has encouraged residents to begin opening up their “pandemic bubble,” if it is safe for them and their families, to no more than six people. She’s said that barbecues and spending time outdoors will be OK, so long as people keep two metres of physical distance and practise good hygiene.

“You need to commit to each other for the coming weeks and months that you’re going to protect each other and care for each other,” Henry said on Wednesday.

Small campfires are allowed but other burning prohibitions remain in place. Fires must not be larger than 0.5 metres in height or width. People who plan to light a campfire as they enjoy day-use activities at provincial parks and recreation sites must remember to fully extinguish it and ensure the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area.

Other activities include visiting the local farmer’s market in order to buy local.

“Though some restrictions are expected to ease next week, it remains vital for everyone to maintain physical distancing and take other important measures to limit the spread of COVID-19,” the province said. “This includes staying home if you have any symptoms of illness, washing your hands frequently with soap and water and not touching your face.”

ALSO READ: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Investigators comb through Chilliwack house following standoff

RCMP say investigation involves report of an early morning shooting

Chilliwack dad rescues his two young daughters after truck plunges into Cultus Lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 business listing: Hope and area

Find out which stores are open and how to support those who are feeling the effects of the pandemic

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

White Rock council considers allowing alcohol in waterfront park

Council mulls business-boosting measures, including picnic benches

Most Read