Health Minister says urgent steps are needed as Whistler grapples with high COVID-19 numbers
The province has announced it will unveil a specialized action plan to curb COVID-19 at ski hills.
In a Friday press conference, health minister Adrian Dix said the Ministry of Tourism is expected to release an action plan for ski resorts next week.
Dix said the actions would target the source of transmissions and also noted that transmission at ski hills is related to social settings, not skiing.
“It’s not skiing on the mountain that’s been the principal source of transmission,” he said.
Dix added that authorities have recently carried out a number of inspections aimed at reducing transmission in Whistler.
“We’ll continue increasing [inspections]—and I think you’ll see an increase in communications, more details of the plan, both from the industry, involving health authorities, but also the Ministry of Tourism—to target transmission in the coming weeks,” he said. “I think it’s very important we do that because no one wants to take broader action that would curtail the season.”
The news comes as Whistler continues to grapple with high rates of COVID-19. Dix said the community has had 547 cases of COVID-19 from Jan. 1 to Feb. 2. A number of prominent Whistler bars and restaurants have temporarily closed after being listed as COVID-19 exposure sites by public health authorities.
“That’s way, way, way too many cases,” said Dix, referring to the 547 figure.
Other B.C. mountain communities such as Revelstoke and Big White have also been dealing with COVID-19 clusters. Sun Peaks’ case count has so far remained low throughout the pandemic.
In other news from the conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced restrictions limiting social interactions to one’s household will remain in place indefinitely.
“Right now, we need to stay the path,” said Henry. “We need to protect the progress we have made and not squander our progress.
“By the end of the month, once again, we can look to having our ‘safe six’ — our bubble — again,”
BC reported 465 new cases on Friday, with the total number of active cases pegged at 4,447.
54 of them were in the Interior Health Authority region.