Powell River residents were encouraged to follow provincial health regulations by City of Powell River Council members at a November 19 meeting.
Mayor Dave Formosa said Dr. Bonnie Henry had released a new provincial health order stating several measures. He said the new orders are extending across the province until midnight December 7.
Formosa said a requirement implemented by the public safety minister was for workers and members of the public to wear masks in all retail environments and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking. He said high risk indoor group activities, such as high intensity interval training, hot yoga and spin classes will be suspended.
All community social events are suspended for the next two weeks, even if they involve fewer than 50 people, according to the mayor. In-person faith services have also been suspended, and no spectators are allowed at any indoor or outdoor sporting events, said Formosa. There will be no travelling outside the local community for sports.
Formosa said businesses are being asked to suspend any return to the office for employees who have been working at home. Businesses are also being told to re-evaluate whether safety plans are appropriate and are being followed. Inspection of businesses and enforcement of the public health orders are being stepped up, according to the mayor.
“Officials are asking everyone not to travel outside of their communities for non-essential reasons and are asking people from other provinces to postpone their trips here,” said Formosa. “In other words, unless you have to go anywhere, stay, home. Let’s continue to be kind and safe. We’ll get through this together and let’s treat everyone with respect.”
Councillor George Doubt said earlier in the day he had attended an online forum with Dr. Henry and health minister Adrian Dix, who were making their pronouncements about COVID-19 policies. Doubt said most of the orders are a continuation of existing orders that have applied to the Vancouver Coastal Health region for the last two weeks.
“There were some important clarifications that I found,” said Doubt. “One was travel to Vancouver Island being for essential services only. Those essential services include travelling for work and travelling for medical appointments. We know there are many people in Powell River who have to travel on a semi-regular basis across to Vancouver Island to get medical treatments that aren’t available in Powell River.”
Doubt said the travel restrictions are otherwise getting stronger and people are being asked to stay as close to home as possible.
Doubt said one clarification he was particularly interested in was that caring for grandchildren is not regarded as a social gathering, so he will be able to continue caring for his grandchildren. He said he thinks a number of local seniors are also caring for grandchildren during this time.
“It’s an essential service, more or less,” said Doubt.
He said he supports views in the community that there is stronger support for the recommendations and orders regarding wearing masks.
“I encourage people to follow the guidelines from the provincial health officer and get us through this second wave,” said Doubt, “which is hitting us hard right now."