Driftwood columnist and island performer Shilo Zylbergold once penned a song called If You Love This Island, Please Don’t Come.
While it was a tongue-in-cheek ditty that discouraged tourism to Salt Spring Island in general, it could be brought out again as local leaders seek to keep COVID-19 at bay on the islands.
Visitors are usually much appreciated, of course, since so many residents rely hugely on their economic contributions at local stores, restaurants, accommodations and the Saturday and Tuesday markets. But with travel understandably being curtailed around the world, restrictions need to apply locally as well.
Both Islands Trust chair Peter Luckham and the two electoral area directors who represent the Gulf Islands in the Capital Regional District — Gary Holman and Dave Howe — made public pleas in the past few days for people from “away” to not visit. Even individuals with second homes on the Gulf and all Trust-area islands are being asked to not visit.
As Lady Minto Hospital doctors have also stated, it cannot be stressed enough that the many people returning to the islands from time spent overseas, in the U.S. or Mexico must self-isolate for 14 days.
Health Minister Adrian Dix has stated numerous times that the province needs everyone to adhere to restrictions 100 per cent, whether that’s in maintaining the two-metre distance between yourself and others, suspending regular social activities, staying home if you are sick and self-isolating for 14 days after returning home from travelling. How well citizens adhere to the guidelines — some of which can be enforced by peace officers — now and in coming weeks will determine the outcome of the disease’s progression and how well we have “flattened the curve.”
Every time a local worker, from those in retail to health-care to the ferry system, is forced to interact with a customer, their risk of contracting COVID-19 increases.
While many local businesses have instituted changes in how customers are dealt with and by increasing cleaning protocols to reduce the risk of transmission, the only surefire way for everyone to stay safe is to stay home.