Visitors to South Cariboo holiday resorts will have to follow stringent protocols going into the BC Day long weekend, as the number of COVID-19 cases rise across the province.
Resort operators say they’re booked solid going into the holiday weekend and will maintain strict protocols around hand-washing, physical distancing and self-contained units to ensure safety among their guests. In most cases, bathrooms and showers remain closed, while some resorts are requiring guests to agree to the provincial directives over the phone.
“There’s way more work involved, it’s more labour intensive,” said Irene Meili, owner of Fawn Lake Resort in Lone Butte. “A lot of people are saying they’re fed up with the COVID. We have to spend way more time on the phone. We’re telling people ‘you have to follow the protocols. There’s no way you can escape out here and go wild.”
Another 81 new cases were recorded in B.C. over the past weekend, bringing to 353 the total number of cases in Interior Health. The uptick prompted Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry on Monday to amend the B.C. directives by limiting the number of people allowed at guest houses, resorts, on boats and in other vacation rentals and said everyone checking in must provide their contact details.
Crystal Springs Resort in Lac la Hache is already requiring pre-registration and prohibiting guests from having visitors at their sites, owner Jerri New said. With the office closed, guests must provide non-refundable payment a week in advance.
“We have to be able to trace everyone who comes through here. It’s a big sense of responsibility,” New said. “It’s kind of a safeguard for us. We want to continue to be open. We at least know who’s been in here.”
Despite the COVID-19 precautions, the resorts say they are having a banner summer. South Point Resort in Canim Lake is on par with other years, owner Leanne Sallenback said, even though she has seen a few cancellations following the rise in COVID-19 cases. Bookings are also consistent with other summers at Spring Lake Ranch in 111 Mile House, and Cariboo Bonanza Resort in Lone Butte. Most visitors are local or from other areas of B.C.
“We don’t have the tourists from Germany and Europe this year but even without them it’s been so busy,” said Jennifer Sprecher, of Cariboo Bonanza Resort. “Everyone just wants to get outside.”
Henry urged travellers to respect the tourism operators.
“Nobody wants this and that’s why it’s so important to take action now and protect ourselves and protect others so we can all enjoy our summer,” she said. “Start planning today what you’re going to do to make the B.C. long weekend a safe one.
“Let’s use these summer days to bend our curve back down.”