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HomeNewsTom Shypitka Supports Ongoing Call to Avoid Travel to Small Rural Communities

Tom Shypitka Supports Ongoing Call to Avoid Travel to Small Rural Communities

Tom Shypitka, MLA for Kootenay East, is expressing the continued call for visitors, travellers, and the general public to stay home and avoid travelling to small rural communities and placing them at an increased risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Shypitka forwarded the following letter “Keeping the Border in Check” to MyEastKootenayNow.com:

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“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and thanks to strong voices in the Kootenays — from local officials to everyday citizens — B.C. and Alberta issued a joint statement addressed to residents in both provinces to stay home and not cross the border over the Easter long weekend.

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Nothing has changed since then. The threat of COVID-19 spreading into small communities that are unable to handle a sudden influx of visitors still remains great on both sides of the border.

Thanks to you voicing your health and safety concerns, I was able to channel a request from our region directly to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, who in turn contacted his Alberta counterpart, Tyler Shandro, which resulted in the joint statement directing people to stay home and not put seniors and others at risk due to unnecessary travel.

More thanks are also owed to Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer, who has been our calm and steady hand and our best chance of getting through this pandemic and who also issued a statement calling on everyone to stay home.

Furthermore, I was able to work with the B.C. government and come to a mutual agreement to restrict camping and motorized recreation (including the use of off-road vehicles) throughout the entire Koocanusa Recreation area, effective now. As you all know, this area is most hardly hit by travellers outside our jurisdiction. The mud bogs are a prime example. These restrictions will remain in place until further notice.

Under normal circumstances, we always welcome our friends, neighbours and family members from outside our small rural communities to come and visit and enjoy all the outdoor recreational opportunities the Kootenays have to offer.

But we have seen how loosening restrictions too early can have devastating results in places like Singapore, where early precautions were highly successful, but gave way to a second wave and more infections when officials relaxed restrictions too soon.

We cannot afford to allow that to happen here, especially after all the work we’ve done as a province to pull together and protect each other.

Rest assured that I and my fellow MLAs will continue to support Dr. Henry in calling for an end to unnecessary travel to smaller communities from anywhere outside our healthcare service area.” ​

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