Kelowna set to educate residents, businesses about virus dangers

Basran's COVID warning

City of Kelowna staff and other agencies will be out in force next week in an effort to remind residents, visitors and businesses about provincial health orders which remain in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Colin Basran reiterated the pandemic remains a concern, but stated this "isn't forever."

His comments came in the wake of more than 70 positive COVID-19 tests results linked to exposure events in Kelowna at the end of June and through the first nine days of July. More than 1,000 people, many who were exposed through recent events in Kelowna, are self-isolating.

"Our ability to enjoy the rest of our summer, restart our economy and keep our loved ones and front-line safe, depends largely on our ability to contain the spread of this virus. That is up to us," said Basran.

"Summer is a social time of year, especially in Kelowna, but we need everyone to be as careful now as we were in Phase 1 of our response to COVID-19.

"This sudden increase of cases in Kelowna shows us how quickly things can change."

As he has done frequently since the Kelowna outbreak, Basran again implored a specific group in the 20s and 30s to keep themselves, and people they love safe by adhering to orders put forth by the provincial health officer.

In order to get the message out, Basran says, beginning next week, city teams will visit beaches, boat launches, parks, recreation facilities and other places where people gather to remind them to take proper precautions.

"Bylaw services will join WorkSafeBC, BC Liquor Enforcement, and Interior Health to inspect, educate, and enforce provincial health orders focused on businesses.

"I commend businesses that are diligent about following safety precautions, and I urge all businesses to take this threat seriously."

Once again, Basran stressed the city will continue to follow the guidelines, and guidance set out by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

This means the city has not contemplated an order to make face masks mandatory in all buildings, similar to what Calgary announced Wednesday.

"As of now, the recommendation is that if you can't adhere to the physical distancing requirements, that she recommends wearing a mask, but she is not making it mandatory."

As far as tourism is concerned, Basran says the city will not be encouraging people to stay away based on the recent outbreak.

When asked about that specifically during a meeting last week, Basran says Dr. Henry had no problem with promoting the city as "open to visitors from within the province."

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