Incident Commander and Director of Emergency Management Darwin Durnie is stressing the importance of social distancing and adhering to the policies put in place by the province in regards to closures and gatherings.
The COVID -19 pandemic is moving quickly and on Thursday, March 19, the province announced the first death. He says the number one thing a person can do is maintain social distances.
“Maintaining social distances, washing and sanitizing your hands and self-isolation is a moral obligation,” said Durnie. “The more vigilant we are, the less time we will have to shut down.”
He says it is vitally important to follow the rules put in place by the provincial government. This includes self-isolating if you are a traveller returning to the country. Also, restaurants adhere to not allowing more than 50 patrons or half of their capacity, whichever is less in the facility, as well as bars and recreation facilities remaining closed.
“Any facility in the valley that doesn’t allow minors was ordered closed,” he said. “When we get to the point of understanding that closing could slow the spread of transmission, that’s being safe, that’s being caring and compassionate, that’s being careful.”
Over the past week, the federal and provincial governments have laid out several programs to assist residents and businesses as they cope with the economic hardships caused by the pandemic. Durnie notes that many of these efforts come through government programs, such as Employment Insurance. This is new territory for many residents who have never navigated these programs.
“Council is working with agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Development Centre, and Community Futures to help people in the valley access these economic stimulants or assistance,” said Durnie. “Please contact the Chamber of Commerce and we will begin identifying navigators or coaches to help people move forward financially.”
He adds if there are people who are well versed in these processes, it may be an opportunity to volunteer.
“Let’s help each other navigate through this. Reach out to your neighbour.”'