Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian counted response efforts in the days.
“Sadly now, it’s come to counting the number of months that we’ve been involved,” Christian told media during a pandemic response update on Tuesday at city hall.
It’s been more than three months since the province put in place measures to curb spread of the novel coronavirus and, on Tuesday, just after Christian spoke with reporters, Premier John Horgan unveiled the province’s phase three economic reopening plans.
As a result, more city recreational facilities will reopen, including Brock Pool (June 29 for drop-in laps, groups and lifeguard training, but July 8 for general public, with limited capacity); Prince Charles Park wading pool (June 29, maximum 30 people in pool); Riverside Park Beach (to be determined, once flood barriers are removed); TCC wellness centre/gym and athlete performance centre (June 29) and select city fields and ice rinks.
In addition, the Barnhartvale landfill will reopen Friday, with the mayor noting projects around the house resulting in requests from the community for the service.
More information on facilities reopening in the city can be read here.
The province is set to open up non-essential travel in British Columbia and Christian said Kamloops is ready to welcome visitors.
“Certainly on the basis of the research done by Tourism Kamloops, we seem quite prepared to welcome regional visitors to Kamloops,” Christian said. “We seem prepared to welcome British Columbians to travel here. Then it gets much softer and it gets very soft when you look at the U.S. border. Yesterday, the number of cases in Washington state were disturbing. There is really no epidemiological difference between central British Columbia and Washington state, other than the 49th parallel. I don’t see that opening any time soon.”
On Tuesday, officials in Washington said wearing masks in publics areas will be mandatory as of June 26 as eight new deaths and 516 additional cases were reported in the state. To date, Washington, with a population of 7.6 million, has recorded 29,386 cases and 1,284 deaths. By comparison, B.C, with a population of 5.1 million, has recorded 2,835 cases and 170 deaths.
Christian said he told the provincial government last week that Kamloops will participate in a provincial travel initiative with Destination B.C., promoting travel in the Shuswap, in Wells Gray Park and in hidden gems in the region.
Asked if he is concerned about travellers bringing the virus into Kamloops, given that more cases have been centred in the Lower Mainland, Christian conceded increased travel will increase risk. He said case counts are anticipated to rise with easing of restrictions and reminded residents to be mindful of their contacts, follow physical-distancing guidelines and practise good hand hygiene Christian even brought a container of wipes to the press conference, stressing council’s desire for the community to be mindful of safety practices.