B.C. Premier John Horgan stressed Wednesday that all non-essential travel should be avoided or postponed. He said the health measures will remain in place for all B.C. for at least the next two weeks.
“We need to make sure that those who want to come to British Columbia must only do so if it is essential for their business or their wellbeing,” said Horgan.
“Beyond that, we need to stay in our tight social circles. This is critically important at this point.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged British Columbians to avoid all non-essential travel within the province and asked people from other parts of Canada not to visit, as part of several new restrictions aimed at slowing the recent surge in COVID-19.
Anyone who can avoid travelling outside of their own community should do so, Henry told a news conference on Thursday, as should anyone who can avoid travelling to B.C. at this time.
Fernie Alpine Resort isn’t open yet, but spokesperson Matt Mosteller said extended restrictions deterring out-of-province visitors — and even B.C. residents from other parts of the province — would be felt.
“It certainly would be a massive impact for not only ski area operators but also for all of Main Street, all of the communities along the powder highway,” he added.
Mosteller said the resort is making safety a top priority and will do its part to protect visitors and staff.
“We have to do the right thing, take the steps to stop the spread, because if we don’t do that, we aren’t going to get a ski season.”
Tourism Fernie said the area has seen a decease in activity since COVID-19 hit in March.
From January to August, hotel revenues saw a 32 per cent decrease in 2020 compared to 2019.
Jikke Gyorki, executive officer with Tourism Fernie, added Albertans alone represent about 50 per cent of the community’s overnight visitors, totaling roughly $50 million annually.
“That doesn’t even include the economic impact that Albertans have when it comes to the corporate visitor, those that are staying with friends or family, those that are just here for a day trip since the border is so close to many of them,” said Gyorki.
COVID-19 restrictions will be in place for some time, but Mosteller said he hopes those restrictions include a way for outdoor enthusiasts to make their way to the ski hill.
“People need the healthy benefit the mountains provide and that fresh air on their face while they’re skiing and riding down the slopes, that is just pure joy, and we definitely need more joy in our lives right now.”