'It seems like we're going backwards': Backlash to new COVID-19 restrictions in Fraser Health
As Fraser Valley mayors appeal for more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in their region, some residents believe new health restrictions won't be enough to push people to get the shot.
"I think it's going to make those unvaccinated people even more angry," said resident Pixie Wells.
"It seems like we're going backwards," she said, referring to the new restrictions on private gatherings.
"It seems like every time a big occasion comes up, the mandate comes down again that we're not supposed to gather."
Residents of Fraser East face restrictions similar to those put in place in B.C.'s Interior last month.
For example, indoor household gatherings are now limited to five additional people or one more household.
For outdoor gatherings, the limit is 10 people in addition to those living at the home unless everyone is fully vaccinated.
"We're asking people that have not been vaccinated to reconsider that decision," Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun told CTV News.
The mayor is also asking those who’ve only had their first dose to book an appointment "for the greater good of the community and the region overall.”
In Abbotsford, 85 per cent of those 12 and older have received a first dose of the vaccine. Seventy-six per cent are fully vaccinated. But that number drops as you head farther east.
In Chilliwack, 70 per cent are fully vaccinated. That number drops to 67 per cent in Hope, according to Sept. 28 data from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
"Consider the ramifications if we don't get our arms around this variant and the cases rising, especially in Fraser East," Braun said.
The new restrictions don't impact church services. Nor will they affect the new Abbotsford Canucks, who don't play at home until October 22, just days before the province-wide requirement that people attending certain businesses and events be fully vaccinated takes effect.
Linda Dickson says she's relieved she can still attend the hockey games and has already bought tickets.
"I've been double vaccinated since June. I just wish everybody would get onboard," she said.
Resident Lori Betker said she supports the new restrictions.
"I think it's necessary,” she said. “I really do. We have to get this under control, even if we have to go backwards for a while.”
But Wells, who is the acting president of the Fraser Valley Metis Association, does not support the new rules.
"How do I get my community back together if I can't gather with more than 10 people?" she asked, saying she doesn't want to be policing people and asking if they've had a vaccine.
She worries the restrictions will deepen divisions between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
Meanwhile, mayors of six Fraser Valley communities have publicly said they support the tougher restrictions.
"If we don't do this, we could have another variant that might be much more dangerous than the Delta variant, which is bad enough,” said Braun. “So our hope is people will reconsider that.”
"The sooner we get out of this, the sooner we can get back to some kind of normalcy," the mayor said.
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