Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Aug. 24, 2020. (B.C. government)

‘Back to basics’ on COVID-response: Fernie Chamber of Commerce

Recent shut-down orders from the B.C. government are a reminder that the road out of COVID-19 won’t be easy

Recently announced shut-down orders imposed on specific B.C. businesses are more proof that future pandemic-related directives from Victoria will be narrowly targeted, according to Brad Parsell of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce.

Responding to questions on the step backwards from the provincial government when it came to opening everything back up, Parsell, who is the executive director of the chamber said that he didn’t think it was likely the province would go to wider shutdowns, or provincial mask mandates.

“I think if they did put us back into lock-down ,it would be the absolute worst case,” he said, adding that the announcement from the provincial chief health officer that nightclubs and banquet halls had to close was more like “a shot across the bow” at specific parts of the economy where contact tracing was difficult.

According to the B.C. government, nightclubs and banquet halls are to shut down, and there are new limits of late-night alcohol sales at bars.

Dr. Henry said that she was not considering shutting down dine-in service at bars and restaurants altogether.

READ MORE: B.C. to shut down nightclubs, banquet halls; limit late-night alcohol sales at bars

“I think they’re trying to set up the health community to have really really strong contact tracing,” said Parsell.

Parsell said he believed the order from Dr. Henry was in line with what she had been saying towards the end of summer as the holidays ended, the weather turned and kids went back to school.

“It’s a good time to go back to the basics.”

Even so, with a handful of Fernie businesses impacted, Parsell said the order from Dr. Henry was “a reminder to everybody that (the pandemic) is still going on.”

Given that COVID-19 has a 14-day incubation period, health authorities, local governments and the business community were waiting to see what came next.

“Everybody is really interested to see what the numbers are going to look like two to three weeks from now,” said Parsell, explaining that the combination of the end of summer holidays, the Labour Day long weekend, and B.C. kids going back to school was going to make for some anxiety.

“I recognize now many business owners and staff are parents. (Any numbers including) the back to school weeks will have huge implications on the future.”

The most recent numbers from Interior Health (IH) were that there had been a cumulative 462 cases in the region, including an additional two cases between Sep. 8 and Sep. 9.

Of those, only 16 cases were active, and no-one was in hospital. No cases from the outbreak at Teck Resources’ Fording River water treatment operations are residents of IH.

The numbers are less rosy B.C.-wide, with the provincial government reporting 100 new cases on Sep. 10, bringing the provincial total to 6,691 since the beginning of the pandemic. 1,378 cases are active within the province, with the vast majority shared between the Vancouver Coastal Health region and the Fraser Health region.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases reported at Teck site in Elk Valley
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