As the number of COVID-19 cases in the Kelowna cluster grows, Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming said it’s a time to remain diligent and follow the orders of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“We need to be extremely careful and social distancing outside one’s own social bubble needs to be done in a very cautious way,” the mayor said Thursday, July 23.
“The virus can be anywhere and we have relearned this, if people have forgotten.”
Seventy-eight cases linked to the Kelowna cluster were reported Wednesday, July 22 — 66 of those are individuals from the Interior Health region, others are from Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health.
One additional case of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed among Kelowna General Hospital employees bringing the number of cases among health-care workers to seven.
Roughly 1,000 people are self-isolating across British Columbia after coming into contact with someone who has contracted the virus.
“My thoughts are with those who have ended up with it in Kelowna and area,” Mayor Cumming said. “It’s not a nice to thing to have at all.”
“It’s particularly hard,” Mayor Cumming said. “We’re in the Okanagan summer at its best and it’s been a shut-in winter and spring and now we have glorious weather and people are wanting to be outside and connect with friends and new friends.”
Several Kelowna restaurants and businesses have once again closed their doors to the public as staff awaits results from COVID-19 testing. Locations include Rustic Reel Brewing, Brown’s Socialhouse and the Train Station Pub.
Starbucks on Anderson Way in Vernon has also closed its doors temporarily after two staffers exhibited symptoms of the novel coronavirus. The coffee giant said it expects to reopen its doors July 31.
“Both partners were sent home and went to be tested, and we initiated a deep clean, following all recommended guidelines from public health authorities,” said Starbucks in a statement to the Morning Star.
Mayor Cumming said it’s clear the tourism and hospitality sectors have been hard hit by the worldwide pandemic.
“Lots of businesses count on financially busy summers,” he said. “I really feel for them.”
B.C.’s top doctor ordered people who rent homes, houseboats and other vacation rentals to limit their guests Thursday, July 23. Details of the new order will be in effect Friday, July 24. The measure will be required for rental agreements for resorts and other vacation rentals such as AirBnB and VRBO.
“It’s in my view, the view of the province and provincial health officer and ministry of health, we really have to be careful as we’re moving into these next stages as we’re freeing up our economic and social lives,” Mayor Cumming said.
That reopening will have to remain slow, he said. “If we’re going to maximize health.”