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Coronavirus: Regional district tells tourists to avoid South Okanagan, Similkameen

Regional District Okanagan Similkameen chair Karla Kozakevich. The regional district is asking tourists to stay away for now, as they could strain local hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Regional District Okanagan Similkameen chair Karla Kozakevich. The regional district is asking tourists to stay away for now, as they could strain local hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. Regional District Okanagan Similkameen

Stay away from the South Okanagan and Similkameen regions, at least for now.

That’s the message the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen issued via video on Friday, citing concern that tourists could strain its hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Long weekend visitors during pandemic sparking concern among Shuswap residents

“Many of our smaller communities throughout the regional district have been inundated with visitors,” board chair Karla Kozakevich says in the video.

“Medical issues due to COVID-19 will put our small, rural hospitals and health-care facilities over capacity, and unable to serve both locals and tourists.”

The district is the latest government asking tourists and other visitors to stay home, especially with the weather warming up, so as not to overwhelm their community in case of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: B.C. highways, ferries busy Easter long weekend despite calls to stay home

A similar plea came from several municipalities ahead of the Easter long weekend.

Following that weekend, some mayors in B.C.’s Southern Interior told Global News they saw an increase in out-of-town traffic from Alberta and the Lower Mainland.

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne said business owners told him it was as busy as any summer long weekend, and that the May long weekend could be even worse.