Island businesses urge regional approach to COVID-19 restrictions as cases climb
VICTORIA -- With COVID-19 cases climbing dramatically in B.C. this week, some island businesses are saying the province should explore the idea of regional closures and restrictions.
Currently, B.C. works on a blanket, province-wide restrictions system. Meaning if cases continue to worsen this fall and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wants to close businesses or restrict group sizes, the same rules would apply in downtown Vancouver and Port Alberni.
Inside the Langford restaurant House of Boateng, the idea that the same rules apply in COVID-19 hotspots and places like Vancouver Island seems to skip a beat.
"It would be nice if closures were regional like they've done in Ontario and Quebec," said restaurant owner Charlotte Boateng. "Because maybe then we'd stand a chance at being open more."
The small business welcomes COVID-19 restrictions and in no way downplays the seriousness of the health crisis, but its owners do think a one-size-fits-all approach works against the idea of trying to keep the economy rolling in a tough time.
In the wake of a troubling string of daily increases in COVID-19 cases this week, including Thursday's record-setting 274 cases, Henry told British Columbians that changes were coming.
"There will be increased inspections by WorkSafeBC in the coming weeks and days, and by our environmental health teams, and increased enforcement across the province," said the provincial health officer.
Henry said disease spread has jumped because of a increase in larger social gatherings, including weddings and funerals.
She also indicated that workplace exposures are a key factor in the new wave of cases and more needs to be done to distance and protect one another at job sites.
In Langford, mayor Stew Young told CTV News Vancouver Island as provincial officials boost business inspections his local government will help with education and preparedness.
"The last thing we want to see is businesses shut down because they didn't know what the regulations were," said Young. "That's our job as a municipality."
On Friday, B.C.'s Ministry of Health reported 223 new COVID-19 cases, including one in the Vancouver Island Health region.