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‘We are at special risk of exposure’: Quadra Island asks visitors to keep away

With new travel restrictions in place, tight-knit communities on and surrounding Vancouver Island are asking people to keep away… unless it’s essential.

One of those communities is Quadra Island.

Regional district representative and Quadra resident Jim Abram – alongside We Wai Kai First Nation Chief Ronnie Chickite – have put out a plea asking people to hold off from making non-essential trips to the island until the Covid situation subsides.

While they say visitors from across B.C. are drawn to the island for its warm welcome, recreational opportunities, and rich First Nations culture, “in light of the growing crisis surrounding the pandemic, community leaders are asking that visitors defer their travel plans until further notice.”

“The situation here on Quadra is very serious,” Abram tells Vista Radio. “We do not have infrastructure here – we have a ferry. If we get a ferry worker sick or diagnosed with testing positive with Covid, our ferry is shut down. This means our island of 3,000 people is shut down.”

RELATED: Province launches travel restrictions to curb COVID-19

Abram notes the island is a small community with not just limited resources, but also its share of vulnerable residents: “We have an inordinate amount of elderly people,” he says. “We have a much higher ratio of people over 60 than other areas.”

Like other small destinations, he says Quadra is at “special risk of exposure” from people who may unknowingly travel while infected.

“We all know now that isolation and limiting travel are key strategies in fighting this pandemic while we continue to wait for the provincial vaccination program to reach completion.”

Abram recognizes some of the largest provincial tourism organizations, as well as many other small communities, have issued similar requests, and he says this should be “a clear signal that it is time to put the brakes on tourism during this public health emergency.”

“We have a thriving tourism business, we depend on it. We absolutely depend on it every year. And we have a couple of large campgrounds that people love to come to, they’ve been coming here for years. We’re asking people to please not come this year, or at least at this particular time of the year. Maybe later on in the summer or fall things will change,” Abram explains.

“Social distancing and all those things are very difficult to do. People don’t just come and sit in one spot at a campsite. They go to restaurants, they go to shops, they go to gas stations, they go to all kinds of places. And they play on the beaches. That’s what people do.”

With this in mind, Abram stresses things have gone “from bad to worse over the past year,” and says “it’s time to do more to stop this deadly pandemic.”

He says the Quadra community is urging the public to stay home, stay safe and follow the guidelines issued by Health Canada and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Abram is now thanking seasonal visitors for understanding the community’s concerns and requests, adding: “We want to be here safe and sound when it’s the right time to return and enjoy Quadra Island with us.”

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