An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK at Royal Inland Hospital’s patient care tower construction project should have us thinking twice about loosening up restrictions.
One line of reasoning is that restrictions should be put on those communities with the highest number of outbreaks, and leave the rest alone.
Under this rationale, for example, bars, weddings and other social gatherings should be shut down in Chilliwack but allowed in Kamloops. The Fraser Valley, after all, is experiencing unprecedented growth in numbers of cases, while the Interior, not as much.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has indeed imposed new restrictions on the Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority on travel, indoor group exercise and workplace safety.
These measures will, no doubt, prolong the social and economic pain in those areas.
So, what about us? Other than the RIH case and some outbreaks in the Okanagan, we in the Interior are doing just fine, aren’t we? Why not relax restrictions here and increase them where it really matters, such as the Fraser Valley? Why should we continue having to wear masks and put up with all that Plexiglas? Why shouldn’t we be able to go to a bar for a drink, or hold a wedding or funeral?
Well, cases per hundred of population are up in the Interior.
Interior Health is experiencing the third highest number of new cases in the province, behind Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal. Kamloops is a two-and-a-half-hour drive up the Coquihalla from Chilliwack, a short commute for COVID-19.
Dr. Henry is trying to thread the needle, keeping restrictions in some areas and tightening them in others, so she is taking regional differences into account. If anything, she relies too much on good faith and “expectations.”
This is not the time to ease up on the gas pedal, and the situation at RIH is a powerful reminder of that.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.