Kelowna, Kamloops MLAs call on Interior Health to explain arena capacity decision

MLAs call for explanation

Five BC Liberal MLAs in the Thompson-Okanagan are joining the chorus of business leaders demanding an explanation as to why the Interior Health region may keep capacity limits in place for sporting events and concerts in the region.

The provincial government announced this week B.C. would allow arenas to go to full-capacity as of Oct. 25, but said regional restrictions from health authorities like Interior Health supersede that.

Interior Health has so far refused to say if it will follow the lead of the province, promising more clarity of the situation on Friday.

The five MLAs representing Kelowna and Kamloops — Todd Stone, Renee Merrifield, Peter Milobar, Norm Letnick and Ben Stewart — wrote to Interior Health chief medical health officer Dr. Sue Pollock on Wednesday.

“The two WHL teams based in Kamloops and Kelowna have been leaders in the sports world with respect to ensuring the safety of their fans, players and staff via requirements for double vaccinations and safe operating protocols,” the letter reads.

The MLAs explain that the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers are “at a loss to understand” why Lower Mainland arenas will be at full capacity while theirs may be required to sit half empty.

The letter asks Interior Health to explain their rationale for capacity rules differing by region and at what point the restrictions will be lifted.

If everybody in the building must be double vaccinated, then why should restrictions be required, asked Kelowna Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton in an interview with Castanet this week.

"When you add the other half of the attendance, it's still going to be the same group of people. They have to have their shots in order to get in."

"It's frustrating because we don't know what we have to do to get over the hump."

President of B.C. Restaurants and Food Services Association Ian Tostenson is also calling on Interior Health to follow the province’s lead and lift the restrictions.

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