A local business advocacy group is excited to see the province moving ahead into the second stage of its COVID-19 reopening plan.
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce said the further easing of restrictions will help move the community and the economy closer to recovery.
“We are pleased to hear that the number of COVID cases in B.C. have decreased while hospitalizations have stabilized, and our thoughts continue to be with those individuals and families impacted by this virus,” president Krystin Kempton said.
“In terms of step two of the restart plan, it’s extremely good news that the non-essential travel ban between regions in B.C. has lifted,” she said. “This means that families can be reunited and British Columbians can travel within the province, meaning a significant boost for the tourism and hospitality sectors, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.”
But out-of-province non-essential travel is still discouraged at this time, Kempton emphasized.
Stage two will see liquor sales return to its pre-pandemic midnight cutoff and indoor seated events for up to 50 people with safety plans in place.
Masks remain mandatory in public indoor spaces until at least July 1.
Henry said there is still transmission in communities, even with more than 75 per cent of adults having at least one dose of COVID-19, and one more two-week incubation period for the coronavirus is being monitored before B.C. moves to stage three.
Effective June 15, public health orders also allow a limited-capacity return of banquet halls, which were a source of transmission risk from the social events they hosted earlier in the pandemic.
Indoor high-intensity group exercises such as spin classes are allowed to restart, but no indoor spectators are allowed until B.C.’s step three, which begins July 1 at the earliest, assuming COVID-19 transmission and illness stay low.
“For the restart plan to progress, all of us as individuals must keep doing our part by following the protocols, being vaccinated and being kind to each other,” Kempton said.
“We would also encourage residents to support local, whether it’s dining in or takeout, resuming fitness classes or ordering online from a Vernon business.”
The road to recovery will be filled with its challenges and while the province said updated guidance from WorkSafeBC will be released ahead of Canada Day, Kempton said it’s vital businesses like chambers of commerce provide input.
“We would encourage MLAs and cabinet ministers to speak directly to business owners,” she said.
“There is also a need for the provincial government to continue to provide much-needed financial support to businesses and non-profits as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt.”
– with Tom Fletcher, Black Press files