Two of B.C.’s most popular tourist destinations are telling visitors to stay away during the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Whistler and Squamish issued notices Sunday urging tourists to “please stay at home for now,” noting people were continuing to gather in large groups and visit attractions in droves over the weekend — counter to the province’s social distancing guidelines.
“The health of our residents in all our communities is at stake — not just Squamish, but the North Shore and the Lower Mainland too,” District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott said in a statement.
“This is not a joke, and it’s not an extended holiday. You must stay home as much as possible and be responsible, today. Our health-care system depends on it.”
Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton agreed in his own statement issued not long after Elliot’s.
“Social distancing measures are not optional,” he said. “The Prime Minister has said many times recently that everyone needs to stay home and we all need to follow that direction.”
Health officials across Canada have been urging people to stay at least two metres apart from each other at all times to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and to stay home as much as possible.
B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has ordered all public gatherings to be limited to 50 people or under.
Municipalities across B.C. have reported similar issues of people breaking those rules over the weekend, leading to the closures of outdoor sports fields, sports courts and other outdoor facilities Sunday.
Civic buildings, including recreations centres, and playgrounds have already been closed in most cities since late last week.
As of Sunday, all trails on the Stawamus Chief are closed, along with all playgrounds.
Whistler took similar measures Sunday, closing all playgrounds, parks, the Lost Lake beach area, sport courts and skate parks. Municipal buildings and public facilities were also closed.
Crompton noted that RCMP, fire officials and bylaw officers had spent the weekend sharing social distancing guidelines with the public, only to be ignored.
He added RCMP and Whistler Fire Service had to break up a “large gathering” Saturday evening.
Squamish said it is requesting more restricted access to facilities within BC Parks, which are closed despite the parks themselves remaining open.\
Whistler Blackcomb closed down operations for the rest of the ski season last week.
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