The Regional District of East Kootenay is closing all of its facilities to public access, but they remain in operation.

“Our Cranbrook and Columbia Valley offices are closed to public access; however, we remain open for business and are encouraging the public to contact us via phone or email with any inquiries, payments, questions, or applications,” said Shawn Tomlin, CAO for the RDEK.

The RDEK said they note the importance of “social distancing” which continues to be imparted by federal and provincial health authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19.

As a result, all of the RDEK’s offices and facilities are fully closed off to the public, which includes fire halls around the RDEK, as well as Invermere’s Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena.

“All critical services, such as water, sewer and emergency services, will be our primary focus,” said Tomlin. “In addition, we have been looking at creative solutions to keep things like building inspections and planning projects moving forward in this unprecedented time.”

The RDEK said their move follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement on Monday to encourage Canadians to stay at home as much as possible. On Monday, B.C. Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, also ordered for all gatherings over 50 people to be cancelled.

“Our priority is to protect our employees and the public,” added Tomlin.

The Steamboat Jubilee Mountain Official Community Plan public information meeting has since been postponed and the RDEK will make an announcement in the coming days about Advisory Planning Commission meetings and upcoming public meetings on the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives.

The RDEK said that more information on local impacts as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak can be found on their Emergency Information Page, with links connecting to local, provincial and federal health authorities that are coordinating efforts and providing public information on the virus.