While B.C. residents have been given the go-ahead for local travel, there are still safety restrictions in place, so plan accordingly. (photo by Colin Keigher/en.wikipedia)
What a year so far. For many of us, a driving tour of the Fraser Valley or a trip to a Gulf Island would seem exotic compared to the last months of confinement at home. Which is good, because, while many restrictions are still in place to limit the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, provincial parks are now open for day and overnight use and residents have been given the go-ahead for local travel. The B.C. government is expected to further expand travel options this month, when it launches Phase 3 of its province-wide Restart Plan.
For now, health experts are urging the public to pick vacation destinations that are close to home. There are limitations to cross-border travel, including to Alberta, and travelers might need to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the province. As well, people are strongly urged at this time not to travel outside of the country, even if it is a day trip to the United States.
When planning your vacation, be aware that some of the businesses that closed when the economic shutdown was announced may not reopen this summer. Also, B.C. destinations outside of Metro Vancouver won’t have kosher restaurants nearby, so those who rely on kosher restaurants when traveling will want to factor that into their planning. Many travelers who keep kosher get around this problem by stocking ahead and preparing meals in the hotel room, campsite or RV.
Travel restrictions may be easing, but social distancing – staying at least two metres or 6.5 feet apart from others – is still in force and probably will remain a standard for the rest of the summer. A limit of 50 people per gathering is required and travelers are being encouraged to continue to “stay within their bubble” of close family or friends at this time.
Automobile and RV travel provide the greatest opportunities for maintaining a social distance. Air and rail travel have additional restrictions attached – passengers not only are expected to maintain the appropriate distance, but to carry a mask for each person on board, and you may be expected to wear it for the duration of the trip.
Cruise ships are not expected to be back in service until Oct. 31, but B.C. Ferries are running limited sailings and at 50% capacity, so book ahead when possible and arrive early.
Air travel in particular comes with an added risk of exposure, since airplanes aren’t generally designed to accommodate social distancing. However, all public carriers have implemented additional cleaning procedures to reduce the risk of passengers’ exposure to the virus.
There are a number of steps that travelers can take to reduce their risks of getting COVID-19 and to make this year’s vacation all the more comfortable.
- Determine your risk before you go. Seniors and individuals with underlying health issues have a higher risk of complications if exposed to COVID-19. If you, your traveling companions or the people you regularly live with would be considered high risk, consult your doctor first, or consider staying home this summer.
- Don’t leave home without reservations in place. Pre-plan your trip and find out ahead of time what destinations are open and which aren’t.s
- If you plan to stay in a hotel or motel, pick accommodations that can allow for proper social distancing. Popular destinations and attractions that are known to be crowded or sold out during the summer months may be a better choice for next year.
- If you’re camping or staying in an RV, choose parks that have the spacing to allow for social distancing. Don’t be afraid to call the park and ask about its amenities, including the distance between campsites. Some parks are already staggering their reservations to allow for more spacing. B.C. Parks, which began opening its campgrounds last week, announced that it will open campsites with social distancing in mind. That means, as well, that reservations are highly recommended.
- Plan your meals and stock up. This will reduce your dependence on stores and restaurants, which may be crowded this summer, especially in smaller towns or at roadside stops.
- Bring cleaning supplies. We’ve spent months sanitizing and polishing our own counter tops to stay COVID-19-free. Don’t forget to carry on the practice while you are traveling.
- Carry a generous amount of patience with you. It’s been a tough spring for everyone and summer is finally upon us. Be kind and enjoy your trip!
Jan Lee’s articles and blog posts have been published in B’nai B’rith Magazine, Voices of Conservative and Masorti Judaism, Times of Israel, as well as a number of business, environmental and travel publications. Her blog can be found at multiculturaljew.polestarpassages.com.
For more information
- Destination B.C.: destinationbc.ca
- B.C. Ferries: bcferries.com/about/projects/covid-19.html
- Inland ferries: gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/passenger-travel/water-travel/inland-ferries
- Travel advisories: travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
- B.C. Parks: bcparks.ca and bcparks.ca/covid-19/parks-affected