Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok says that next week, the provincial government may begin to lift some restrictions, but the easing of restrictions is not going to be a dramatic ‘we’re open again’ announcement.
“i think I could see some foreshadowing from the Premier that some things may be changed,” Clovechok said.
He adds that Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer is running the show and it will be up to her what restrictions could be eased.
But, he says, it does not mean that British Columbians don’t have to continue to do exactly what we’ve been doing in terms of social distancing.
“The relaxation of restrictions will be limited, I believe,” he said. “I like what Doug Ford said in Ontario. It’s a plan, not a calendar.
“We’ve done so well in B.C. because people have taken it seriously. Dr. Bonnie Henry is open to suggestions from industry as to how to re-open.”
The world will not be the same, even if all restrictions were lifted, he says. For example, though the Legislature is not sitting, there is plenty of committee work going on, and it’s being done through Zoom meetings rather than face to face, which has been a real positive for the MLA’s travel budget.
“Yes, there are some meetings where face to face is important, but many of these meetings that I used to fly to Victoria for three days to attend, could be done electronically.
“I can’t foresee any time in the immediate future where the Legislature will re-open but the work is going on.”
One restriction Clovechok has been hearing from constituents about is fishing.
“It’s difficult because many of the boat launches are accessed through provincial parks, and they are closed right now. You can social distance while fishing.
“I tend to agree with my constituents that there could be some relaxing there.”
Clovechok says that he is very pleased with the bipartisan effort being put forward to deal with the pandemic, but there will be plenty to deal with in the aftermath, whenever that may be.
Both federally and provincially, there has been a lot of money well spent in order to support citizens and businesses, but the question of how to deal with the deficits will have to be addressed at some point.
“When we get through this, there will be some hard questions from us as opposition members, to the government. What’s the plan now to address this debt? But right now the response has been so bipartisan and I’m very proud of that.”
Of particular interest to Clovechok is the tourism industry, as that is his critic role and also the backbone of a lot of the economy in this riding.
“Around tourism, I’m concerned that there is no concrete plan on how to restore and rebuild the industry from the Ministry. We need a rural rebuilding strategy as well. I’m not seeing a lot coming out of the Ministry right now.”
Clovechok says one of the challenges will be getting people travelling again, even around their own province when restrictions are lifted.
That will be where the recovery has to start, he says. Overseas visitors will not be returning for a while, nor will there be as many people from the United States visiting.
“There’s so many people out of work. Restaurant meals and vacations are based on income, and also feeling safe. It’s going to take a while for people to feel confident again.
“We have a long way to go, we are almost to a place where we can start easing some restrictions, but it could fall back very quickly. We have seen how volatile this virus is, how quickly it can spread. We’re going to have to keep doing what we’ve been doing so well.”