Island Health, Ucluelet taking their own steps to protect residents amid COVID-19 pandemic

Island Health, Ucluelet taking their own steps to protect residents amid COVID-19 pandemic
WatchCampgrounds and RV parks now have to conduct contact tracing measures and Ucluelet is asking visitors from the Lower Mainland to stay away.

As COVID-19 numbers spike higher than ever before in B.C., the small community of Ucluelet is taking a bold stance, asking residents of the Lower Mainland to stay away.

“This isn’t a message about anti-tourism, it’s about protecting the residents on the West Coast,” said Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noel. “I don’t think these demands, these asks, that the district is making is too much because that’s what the province is asking.”

It’s not a mandate or a demand; it’s a request from Ucluelet.

The town is small, and with only one bylaw officer it would be hard to enforce regardless. So, they’re saying don’t come if you don’t have to.

“We’re just doing the same thing that every small community on Vancouver Island wants to do, which is maintain our very low rates of transmission,” said the mayor.

READ MORE: Ucluelet asks residents in Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health to avoid non-essential travel to the area

And while the Island has been spared the large numbers of COVID cases, it’s not immune, and numbers are up.

Since the start of the pandemic, Vancouver Island has had a total of 340 cases, but 51 of those have been in the last seven days alone.

Camping on the Island is also facing some changes.

Island Health implementing a new mandate on Friday, ordering all campgrounds and RV parks to take the name and numbers of all campers for contact tracing.

READ MORE: Campgrounds and RV parks in Island Health must collect contact information under new health order

“I don’t think it’s a difficult request, I think it’s quite easy to ask a simple question of a name and phone number,” said Jasmine Retzer, operations coordinator for the Salish Seaside RV Haven, a small RV park in Esquimalt.

Salish Seaside RV Haven has already been collecting contact tracing info for months, and Retzer says she isn’t surprised at this latest mandate, as RV parks and campgrounds tend to draw in travellers.

“Being responsible for who’s coming in and out, especially if there was to be an outbreak or somebody got sick, then it’s much easier for us to then contact anyone who’s been in and out of the park,” said Retzer.

The destinations on the Island, who usually welcome people with open arms, now clamping down on restrictions as COVID cases climb.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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