In response to rapidly rising cases of COVID-19, the provincial government has issued an order under the Emergency Program Act restricting non-essential travel, which takes effect immediately and will be in place until midnight on May 25, 2021 (after the May long weekend).
The order restricts non-essential travel—which includes things like recreational activities, weekend getaways, and social visits with family and friends—into or out of regional zones, comprised of the province’s various health regions.
The regional zones are:
- Lower Mainland and Fraser Health (Fraser Health and Coastal Health Regions)
- Vancouver Island (Island Health Region)
- Northern/Interior (Interior Health and Northern Health Regions)
While individuals can make their own decisions around travel, health leaders continue to remind people that non-essential travel within regions should be avoided and are advising everyone to stay near the community they live in. For example, hiking and camping can happen but stay within your own local area. Non-essential travel into BC from any province or territory continues to be limited to essential travel only; those who are travelling to the province for essential reasons must adhere to the same restrictions as BC residents.
New and additional initiatives to limit non-essential travel include:
- Signage on highways and at borders.
- Restrictions from BC Ferries on non-essential passage/bookings.
- Information dispersion and reservation refunds, where necessary, from BC Parks.
- Enforcement measures through periodic roadside checks, conducted by police departments throughout the province.
Additional details on the enforcement measures are set to be released next week; however, those found to be in contravention of the order could be subject to a $575 fine. Visitors from outside the province could potentially get a fine as well if they are found to be travelling between regional zones.
More information, including a list of reasons for essential travel, is available now on the Government of BC website.
Support Materials for our Industry
The Government of BC has been working closely with tourism industry leaders to encourage tourism businesses to decline new bookings, and cancel those that have already been made, from individuals outside their regional zone.
For information and assistance, please refer to the messaging toolkit provided by tourism industry partners.
Tourism Kelowna’s Response
We understand and appreciate travel restrictions have a direct and immediate impact on local businesses. This pandemic has gone on longer than expected. While our marketing activities outside of our region have remained paused since November, we have focussed on helping local residents stay local and support local safely as much as possible. You can find more information on what we’ve been doing through our Industry News Centre.
While these travel restrictions are in place, we will continue our efforts to help local businesses survive. Our marketing outside of the destination will resume when able to do so. We continue to develop meeting and conference leads for when travel can again resume and we can meet in Kelowna together. We continue to help local residents discover businesses and attractions right here in the Central Okanagan, and help people plan future trips. Through this, we continue to look at immediate, short-term, and longer-term planning to help our industry get to recovery and to support your business through this challenging time.
We’re always open to your feedback and ideas. If you have any questions or thoughts, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (250) 861-1515 ext. 202.