Camping has been restricted at Lake Koocanusa, and local officials are asking the province for a closure of the B.C./Alberta border to non-essential traffic. File photo.

Camping has been restricted at Lake Koocanusa, and local officials are asking the province for a closure of the B.C./Alberta border to non-essential traffic. File photo.

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

The B.C. and Alberta health ministers are both urging people to stay home during the Easter holiday weekend due to the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adrian Dix, the B.C. Minister of Health, along with Tyler Shandro, his Albertan counterpart, issued a joint statement Thursday morning, noting that while both provinces have strong ties, staying home protects families and health care workers.

“This long weekend is different. These are extraordinary times. A global pandemic puts us all at risk – and we all must stay home, stay in our communities and stay at a safe physical distance from others when outside,” reads the statement.

“Spending a holiday away from people we care about is difficult – but what we are doing matters. Together, we are helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Let us be clear: Staying home means no travelling – especially across our borders. Instead, we encourage everyone to find ways to connect virtually this long weekend, including by video chat or with phone calls.”

While there are no inter-provincial travel restrictions in place, the issue was raised during a recent Regional District of East Kootenay board meeting in the B.C. Interior, where directors passed a resolution calling on the province to close the provincial border to non-essential traffic and provide stronger measures to restrict or reduce inter-community travel.

“As a region we are united in our desire to reduce the impacts of this virus on our health care system and our communities,” said Rob Gay, the RDEK board chair, in a news release. “While the Provincial Health Officers on both sides of the border have been clear in their messaging that people need to be staying home, that message is not being heeded. We are gravely concerned about the potential impacts on our small rural hospitals, front line workers and communities.”

An online petition is also calling on the province to close the provincial border to non-essential traffic until the B.C. government lifts the state of emergency.

Camping restrictions in the Lake Koocanusa region southwest of Fernie were announced on Wednesday, which banned overnight camping, along with the use of off-road vehicles, for the spring and summer. Day-use areas and trails are still open to the public provided that people follow physical distancing protocols.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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