Coronavirus: Long weekend visitors during pandemic sparking concern among Shuswap residents

It happens every spring in B.C.’s Southern Interior: when good weather finally arrives, so do the tourists.

This year, though, was to be the exception, with health ministers from Alberta and British Columbia pleading for people to stay home this Easter long weekend to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In the Shuswap, residents told Global News there are certainly fewer licence plates motoring along B.C.’s highways, but that the odd out-of-province vehicle can be easily spotted.

“Everything’s quite quiet; a few people milling about, people at grocery stories and pharmacies and things like that,” Sunnybrae resident Jan McDonnell told Global News on Friday.

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“Because we live in a recreation area, in Sunnybrae, we’re seeing red and white licence plates, people who may come for a couple days and go home.

Beverley Huppie said she’s seen the odd Alberta licence plate, but that she welcomes and appreciates Albertans who have summer homes in the region.

“This is part of their community as well,” said Huppie.

Meanwhile, Ruth Hobbs, one of the owners of Spinnaker Café in Blind Bay, said business is quiet on what would normally be a busy weekend.

“We’re normally rocking, but we’re not going to be rocking this year,” said Hobbs.

Hobbs continued, saying, “right now, it’s not appropriate. This is a small community and we have a large elderly population, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate for people to be coming here right now, and indeed anywhere else.”

Hobbs said: “we rely on tourism in this community, and everybody’s welcome here, but at the moment, I think we just have to follow the guidelines we’ve been given.”

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