Here's how to safely travel in B.C., now that we're in Phase 3
B.C.'s Okanagan is seen in this file photo.
VANCOUVER -- B.C. entered Phase 3 of its restart plan Wednesday, allowing for non-essential travel within the province.
As residents begin to plan summer trips, the government and local tourism industries have some tips for staying safe and protecting smaller communities.
"When you hit the open roads this summer, you are not leaving COVID-19 behind," a statement on the provincial government's website says.
"Consider the health and safety of people in your bubble and whether you want to take any extra risks."
For those planning to leave town, here are some tips.
Don't travel when sick
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has repeatedly urged B.C. residents to stay home when they're sick during the pandemic, and has given the same message when it comes to travelling.
"If you or anybody in your family or travel group is sick, don't go," Henry said earlier this week.
Anyone who develops symptoms while travelling should immediately self-isolate and call 811 for guidance.
"It may be best in some cases to go home right away. In other cases, it may be best to stay where you are," Henry said.
Check ahead with the community
When Premier John Horgan announced B.C.'s transition into Phase 3, he warned some communities – especially smaller ones – are still not ready for visitors.
"We ask that you have a plan before you leave," he said Wednesday.
"That means making sure that the community that you're going to is prepared to receive you. There are communities around British Columbia that are still quite concerned about travellers coming to visit."
Travellers should check ahead with the community they're heading to in order to make sure they can accommodate visitors.
For example, the Haida Nation has a notice on its website saying non-resident and leisure travel to Haida Gwaii is not currently permitted.
- Related: First Nations near Tofino, Ucluelet keeping borders closed as B.C. eases travel restrictions
Horgan said Wednesday even he's having a hard time booking accommodation for the summer months, so travellers should be prepared to book ahead.
Even those looking forward to taking a tour, having a wine tasting, going on a ferry or visiting a restaurant should check with the business to see if reservations are possible. Some places might not even accept visitors without one.
Travellers should aim to be as self-sufficient as possible to reduce the burden and risk for local businesses. B.C.'s tourism agency and the province both recommend bringing groceries and essential supplies when possible.
"This helps lessen your impact on BC communities who may be experiencing supply issues, and reduces your touchpoints with communities who may have limited health care facilities," a message from Tourism BC says.
But, if travellers do need to pick something up, supporting a local business is best.
"Businesses are eager to welcome you back this summer and your support is more crucial than ever," Tourism BC's message says.
"Remember, with the border closed, our businesses are relying on British Columbians."
Keep up with regular COVID-19 practices
Hand washing, keeping a safe physical distance and wearing a mask when that's not possible should still be common practice, even when taking a trip.
People should still spend time in small groups in open spaces and keep areas clean.