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

Skeena Bulkley-Valley MP Taylor Bachrach has been working across party lines to have rail safety issues addressed. An April 27, 2020 train derailment blocked five intersecting tracks on the CN rail line in Prince Rupert close to the waterfront on Bill Murray Drive. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Bachrach pushes for rail safety and wants NW voices to be heard

Residents and community leaders are concerned about safety and preparedness in the NW

Over 8000 BC Hydro customers have been affected by the power outage. (BC Hydro outage map)
Power outage affects 8000 BC Hydro customers in Prince Rupert area

BC Hydro has assigned crews to restore power

Josie Pottle rocks out to placing painted rocks by more than 14 different Prince Rupert childcare organization staff and tots for rock gardens around the city to mark May as Childcare Awareness month. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Childcare month is rocking it in Prince Rupert

More than 14 local childcare organizations participated in making rock gardens

Volunteers at the AFFNO drive-in movie theatre night at the Jim Ciccone Centre on May 8, directed traffic and braved the rain before the movies started. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
It was lights, camera, action for AFFNO’s drive-in movie night

Volunteers and moviegoers watched a double feature in both official languages

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal has entered into a one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. for the majority of its production for supply to the Asian markets, Pembina announced on May 6th. (Photo: Supplied
Prince Rupert Terminal highlighted in Pembina first quarter

Pembina announced one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. to supply Asian market

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Laketown Shakedown has been rescheduled for 2022, with options for ticket holders to receive refunds or credit for future events. (File photo)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

B.C. Auditor General Michael Pickup in 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. didn’t effectively manage conservation lands program: auditor general

Michael Pickup says staff had limited approaches to resolving the unauthorized use of the most at-risk conservation lands

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Majority of council salutes new flag for Salmon Arm

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

Most Read