Editorial: Time to support each other

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Judging by the empty streets in Ganges on the long weekend, it appears potential visitors heeded the province’s strong directives to not travel for non-essential reasons.

For the most part, British Columbians and Gulf Islanders have been cooperative in following the guidelines designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19. B.C. has fared well as a result when compared to other jurisdictions and the Island Health region has been especially successful.

As of May 15, only one active case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Island Health area, which includes all of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Some 17,820 tests had been administered, with 126 cases confirmed from that number. Province wide there were 499 active cases (from a total of 2,407) and 118,335 tests. 

The province’s move to “restart” B.C. reflects the success of its measures, as well as its understanding that money needs to start flowing through the economy again. It has outlined how restaurants, retail outlets and other businesses can safely reopen to achieve at least a partial semblance of normalcy. Many Salt Spring restaurants had been open to takeout and/or delivery through the first two months of the crisis. With the ability to expand their services, islanders will hopefully make a point of enjoying a safe sit-down meal or continuing to use takeout options.

Salt Spring Island residents have clearly continued to shop through the pandemic period, with Canada Post reporting “Christmas-level” volumes of parcels being delivered here. With local retail and other service outlets now able to open, it is time to shift our predilection for shopping to benefit friends and neighbours who rely on our patronage to survive. Those who still prefer to not shop in person can use online options to benefit locals, including an Island Comeback gift certificate program set up by the Rural Islands Economic Partnership, or the Localline.ca Salt Spring Community Market farm and food outlet.

Some level of tourism in coming months should also be expected, manageable and considered necessary to ensure island residents have the services they are accustomed to in the future and for business operators to survive. Not every business will make it through the current crisis. Let’s do all we can to minimize those losses, while following the sensible guidelines set out by health authorities.

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