A collective cheer went up across BC when it was announced last week that we’ll be allowed to explore our beautiful province this summer. Many hotels, spas, resorts, and RV parks have already resumed operation and most provincial campgrounds, trails and other recreation sites are also open. After four months at home, it’s thrilling to plan summer adventures enjoying all the things our province has to offer. But how can we make sure we stay safe while doing so? We don’t want to undo all the amazing work our fellow citizens have done by staying home and following the rules over the past few months. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself and the communities you visit:
Stay within BC for now
While the Premier encouraged British Columbians to enjoy their summer holidays in BC and support local tourism, he also strongly discouraged non-essential travel to or from other provinces. It will likely be possible to visit other parts of Canada soon, but for now stay close to home.
Check local restrictions
Some Indigenous communities, including Haida Gwaii, are still closed to non-residents because they do not have the medical facilities to respond to a serious outbreak. Save yourself unpleasant surprises and delays by checking for restrictions at your destination and anywhere you plan to stop along the way. Keep in mind that restrictions can change rapidly depending on local conditions, so check back for updates as your trip gets closer.
Book your travel, accommodation, and activities in advance. Choose providers who are clearly following government regulations and recommended safety procedures. If you’re not sure what steps they are taking to keep customers and employees safe, ask them. They should be able to provide you with information about their covid-19 procedures.
While you’re in research mode, look up visitor information and hours for businesses, restaurants, parks, and other places you may want to visit during your trip. Reduce your contact in communities by bringing essentials with you. Bring basic cleaning supplies, including a disinfectant (spray or wipes) and disposable gloves to clean the surfaces you encounter at hotels, on buses, etc.
Clean your hands often
Clean your hands frequently, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. The best way to do this is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Touching your face can significantly increase the risk of infection since your eyes, nose, and mouth are areas where viruses can easily enter your body. We all touch our faces constantly, so it can be a hard habit to break. One way to help keep your hands away from your face is to use scented hand sanitizer or soap, so the smell of your hands acts as a reminder.
Keep your distance
Maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) between you and others. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
Wear a mask
While there was confusing guidance at the start of the pandemic regarding mask use, the evidence is now clear that masks can help prevent the spread of covid-19. By wearing a mask in public spaces, you help protect yourself and others. Many business and other public spaces are now requiring masks, so you may be even be denied entry without one. While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not re-use a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp. The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable, however, contrary to popular myth it does not lead to CO2 intoxication or oxygen deficiency.
If you feel unwell, stay home!
Even the most exciting trip should be postponed if you feel sick. Don’t take any chances with your health or the health of those around you.
Considerations for people at higher risk
Your risk of developing severe symptoms of covid-19 is higher if you’re over 65 or you have serious health problems, such as heart or lung conditions, a weakened immune system, diabetes, or severe obesity. Talk with your doctor to see if it’s advisable to travel and ask about any additional precautions you may need to take.
What precautions will Wells Gray Tours be taking on future tours?
We are planning to resume tour operations within BC (and hopefully Alberta) in the fall, and our team has been working hard to create a covid-19 Safety Plan to keep our guests, employees, and travel partners safe. We also have the great responsibility to minimize any risk of covid-19 transmission to the communities we visit. With this in mind, the safety procedures on tours will look a bit different from our pre-covid tours. Our tours this fall will be smaller than usual, with a limit of 30 guests. This will make it easier to meet physical distancing guidelines. All guests will need to complete a brief health questionnaire prior to boarding the tour. There will be regular mandatory hand sanitizing for all guests and at this time we expect everyone will need to wear a mask when in enclosed spaces where physical distancing is not possible. Coaches will be disinfected each night of a tour. Included meal services will be plated, not buffet style, and we will request private rooms and small tables, where possible. We will also be carefully scrutinizing the safety procedures of all of our suppliers, including hotels, transportation companies, restaurants, and attractions to ensure they meet our standards. Our full safety procedures will be available to share with you very soon.
Stay safe and explore responsibly this summer. People’s lives depend on it.