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‘Don’t come here to make new friends’: Kelowna, B.C., mayor on spike in COVID-19 cases

Click to play video 'Kelowna mayor’s message to tourist following COVID-19 spike' Kelowna mayor’s message to tourist following COVID-19 spike

The mayor of the largest city in B.C’s Interior says he’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

Two weeks ago, the Interior Health Authority issued an advisory of potential COVID-19 exposure after eight people tested positive following Canada Day activities in Kelowna.

Residents are now asking why the city is allowing visitors, says Mayor Colin Basran, because health officials said six of those eight were from outside the Interior Health region.

Read more: Dr. Bonnie Henry calls Kelowna, B.C., COVID-19 outbreak ‘concerning,’ says more cases expected

‘Yes, we’re getting lots of calls, but we’re also, again, being asked by some business owners to, you know, stay the course,” Basran told CKNW Radio’s Simi Sara on Wednesday morning.

“So we’re hearing everything from ‘We’re doing too much’ to ‘We’re not doing enough.’ And, again, it’s trying to strike a balance, so we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

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Within a week, those eight cases ballooned to 35. Overall, 70 new cases of COVID-19 in recent days are connected to the Kelowna outbreak, and that most are people in their 20s and 30s.

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The number of cases across B.C. has been steadily growing since recreational travel within the province was allowed again under the third phase of government’s economic recovery plan.

Read more: B.C. premier announces move to Phase 3 of COVID-19 reopening

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference to address the recent spike in cases.

Henry hinted that new regulations were coming this week, after she confirmed 102 new cases over the last three days on Monday.

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Both Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have pleaded with young people to stop going to parties.

“The vast majority, 98 per cent of all these young folks, are following protocol procedures and a couple per cent are going a little hog wild,” Ford said at a news conference. “Guys, you got to rein it in. Simple as that.”

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In Kelowna, Basran had advice for those wanting to visit the Central Okanagan.

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“Don’t come here to make new friends. Know who is in your circle, but don’t expand it beyond that, and act as if this is your home, too,” he said.

“Assume that … the party or the people next to the people next to you? Somebody in that group has [COVID-19], so take the take the necessary precautions that you would if that was in fact the case.”