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

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Water recovery team stands down search for missing man in Stellako River

Jason Bouchard was in a boat with a friend that overturned in the river May 16

COVID-19: Increased federal funding for off-reserve Indigenous services welcomed news in north

Funding to benefit organizations such as friendship centres during pandemic

COVID-19: PG Community Foundation to disperse community support funds

$197,630 in funding announced by the Prince George Community Foundation

CGL workforce will gradually increase to 650 workers by end of May

The pipeline company provided a project update on May 21.

BC Ferries losing up to $1.5 million each day as pandemic tanks ridership

The company does not qualify for the wage subsidy

Chilliwack school board censures trustee Barry Neufeld after controversial Facebook post

Board chair issues statement on censure but little else regarding Facebook post controversy

Twenty-nine of Canada’s 48 national parks to reopen to day-use visitors June 1

All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas have been closed for weeks

JK Rowling publishes first chapters of new story online

Book will be a fairy tale for kids and benefit those particularly affected by the pandemic

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read