On Monday, March 29, BC's Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced a "circuit breaker" to help combat the rising cases of COVID-19, with revised province-wide restrictions now in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 19, 2021.
For the next three weeks, the following amended restrictions apply to the entire province:
- Indoor dining at restaurants, pubs, and bars is not permitted; outdoor dining and take-out/delivery are allowed.
- No indoor group fitness classes.
- Indoor religious gatherings are not allowed (suspending the previous variance which allowed them).
- Whistler Blackcomb is closed.
These amended restrictions are in addition to existing orders and guidelines, which were first put into place on November 19, 2020. Dr. Henry reinforced restrictions on non-essential travel in her most recent announcement. Anyone who has travelled outside of their own community is reminded to stay home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 and to get tested right away.
Indoor gatherings at private residences and events of any kind continue to be prohibited, with recent increases in fines for promoting or attending gatherings or events that contravene the PHO Orders. Further details on the province-wide restrictions, as well as links to the official PHO orders, can be found online.
What we're doing
In line with the recommendations to restrict non-essential travel, Tourism Kelowna continues to pause paid advertising and promotions outside our region. Our spring marketing tactics will be activated as soon as we are able. We will continue to support local businesses by promoting ideas and activities for residents to safely #exploreKelownalocal, while also providing information to travellers seeking guidance for future trips.
The Kelowna Visitor Centre will remain open to the public with enhanced health and safety measures in place and our Visitor Experience team will continue to assist travellers and residents by phone and through a variety of virtual channels. As has been the case over the past year, our business development team continues to build and nurture relationships with planners and pursue future business for when meetings, conferences, and major events can return.
We will continue to update our website with COVID-19 information, resources, and links to further information to help. We also continue to support the work of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia and numerous sector organizations as the industry demonstrates the impact of these continued and significant challenges.
What local businesses can do
Local businesses have worked diligently to implement COVID-19 measures so customers and employees can stay safe. As public health leaders have reminded us, when everyone works together to adhere to these health and safety guidelines and measures, the risk of transmission is low.
During this three-week "circuit breaker," we would encourage businesses to continue promoting and showcasing the many health and safety procedures your business has in place, reminding consumers of your commitment to keeping them safe. It is also prudent to review and update your COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan if necessary, and to ensure the most recent version is available on your website and in your place of business.
For those restaurants, pubs, and bars that will continue to offer outdoor dining and/or take-out and delivery options during the three-week period, please email our team at the Kelowna Visitor Centre (or call them at (250) 861-1515) to update us with:
- Your available options
- Hours of operation
- Any other pertinent details (promotions, health and safety info, etc.)
The ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 continue to impact the bottom line of a business. Several government relief programs, like the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant, have been amended in recent months so that more businesses are eligible for funding. The Tourism Resiliency Program, delivered by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), provides additional support and can assist businesses in navigating and accessing additional resources.
Be sure to connect with our team to share important information and updates about your business, or if you have any questions. We are available to help you connect with the resources and information you might need as we continue to work together through the COVID-19 pandemic.