Tourists coming and going from Vancouver Island have many locals this long weekend worried about a potential spike in COVID-19 numbers.
Among the non-essential travellers were two people going to an anti-mask rally in Vancouver Friday, who caused BC Ferries to turn and return to Swartz Bay, where police escorted them off.
BC Ferries banned both from travel for the day for non-compliance and being verbally abusive.
RCMP also fined one man $460 after he became belligerent and was escorted off the ferries by officers.
However, it’s the increase in non-essential travel arriving on Vancouver Island, that has locals worried.
“It does. We’ve tried to stay kind of safe on the island here,” said Bonnie Mullin, a Parksville resident.
“I recognize how important they are to our economy but this is not the time and I wish the directive was no travel period,” said Mike Labrecque, another Parksville resident.
At Rathtrevor Provincial Park, one of B.C.’s largest provincial camping spots, it’s 80 per cent full, up from most Easter Long weekends.
“[It’s] a little busier than normal. It started sooner. Instead of coming in Friday for the weekend, some came Tuesday, a lot Wednesday and a lot Thursday,” said Tara Simons, the Park’s Manager with RLC Park Services.
This despite provincial guidelines recommending people limit themselves to essential travel only.
Though down from pre-pandemic Easter Long Weekends Tofino is also seeing a bump in tourists this weekend despite the mayor asking tourists not to come.
“My feeling is that the province’s restrictions on indoor dining and the messaging about staying local are getting through certainly to a lot of people [but] not everybody,” said Dan Law, Tofino’s Mayor.
Some feel the provincial travel directives should be even stronger.
“Bonnie Henry’s talking and talking and talking but no one’s listening. You come here on a sunny day and that beach is just full,” said Betty Edgell, a Parksville resident.
“We have to get control of this so I think yes there should be clear directions no travel unless it’s for medical reasons stay in your own area,” said Labrecque.
Many are worried about what the non-essential travel this weekend will mean for COVID-19 numbers down the road.