Due to the ongoing and rapid transmission of COVID-19, the provincial government is continuing to ask residents and visitors to avoid non-essential travel. On Friday, April 23, an order will be issued under the Emergency Program Act restricting people’s ability to leave their health authority for non-essential travel.Further details will be included in that order though it is expected to include random roadside stops to make sure individuals have an essential reason to travel. Signage will be put up along the BC-Alberta border as a reminder to stay close to home and avoid non-essential travel.

In his address, the Premier also noted that thanks to the collaboration with the tourism industry, operators may cancel non-essential bookings from people outside their given health authority. As of this Friday, BC Ferries will also stop accepting bookings from recreational vehicles (RVs, camper vans, etc.) and will be contacting passengers with existing reservations to ensure they are travelling for essential purposes. 

Existing restrictions on indoor activities, including indoor dining at restaurants, have been extended until at least after the May long weekend (May 24, 2021). It is important to note that local businesses remain open to serve residents and assist people travelling for essential purposes and those individuals who are travelling for essential purposes are asked to adhere to local guidelines, restrictions, and orders, and to respect business measures that are in place.

The health and safety of our community and those that live and work here is our collective priority. Now is not the time for recreational travel in and out of communities. While challenging for our industry, these travel restrictions are required to save our summer travel season, which is essential to give any of our businesses a fighting chance.

We are doing our part to support the work and orders of the Provincial Health Officer. Since travel restrictions were introduced in November, we have paused our paid marketing and promotional activities outside of our region and increased our focus on encouraging residents to stay local and support local as much as possible.

Many local businesses are experiencing challenges like never before due to this lengthy and ongoing pandemic. We need these businesses to survive, as they provide jobs to residents, economic impact to our community, and increase the quality of life for us all. Right now, we encourage anyone who can do so to stay local and support local safely. The immediate health of our community and residents, and the future of Kelowna and area's $2-billion tourism industry, depend on it.

Here are key messages to help you until further details of the new order are released on Friday:

  1. The health of our customers, staff, and community is our priority, and we take this very seriously. Throughout this pandemic, we have monitored the advice and orders from provincial health leaders and have taken many additional measures to continue to serve our customers and our community safely.
  2. The lengthy and ongoing pandemic is presenting many operational challenges for us and many other local businesses. We have higher operational costs but lower capacity to generate revenue. We appreciate the support from our customers to help keep our business going.
  3. Travel restrictions and recommendations against non-essential travel are in place until after the May long weekend. We understand there are more details coming later this week from provincial health leaders. We will monitor the recommendations and advice from the government and take them into consideration when making operational decisions for our business.

Here are three things you can do right now.

  1. Make sure your COVID-19 plan is updated and easy to find on your website and at your business. Take a few minutes to review it, update it, or discuss it with your team.
  2. Let your customers know what you’re doing to help keep everyone safe. Use your website or your social media channels to highlight what you’re offering and the enhanced safety measures in place.
  3. Let your customers know you care! It’s great to see so many local businesses demonstrate their appreciation for the support they’re getting from local residents. A thank you note on the receipt or packaging, acknowledging a longtime customer for their ongoing support or simply a kind, safely-distanced gesture lets those supporting you know that you see their efforts to rally around your business and will help build further loyalty.

We extend our thanks to all the workers on the frontlines of this pandemic and appreciate our local tourism businesses, who continue to adapt and persevere through this lengthy pandemic. We look forward to inviting and welcoming visitors when it is time to travel again.