VANCOUVER -- By extending her non-essential travel order through to Jan. 8, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is asking British Columbians to stay in their own communities through the holiday season.

It’s a blow for Whistler, which was closed down by COVID-19 right before spring break and was looking forward to welcoming families for Christmas break. 

“It’s tough. We have been planning for winter and planning for holidays since the beginning to ensure we are prepared to provide that special kind of holiday experience people come to expect and do it in a safe way,” said Whistler mayor Jack Crompton. 

While he is recommending people follow Dr. Henry’s advice and stay close to home, Crompton can’t prevent people from visiting Whistler.

BC Ferries can’t stop people from travelling either. 

“BC Ferries is not an enforcement agency, so we won’t be screening customers to ensure that their travel is essential,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “But we are asking people do comply with the orders of Dr. Bonnie Henry.”

Henry can’t enforce the travel ban either, saying last week, “I cannot stop you by an order from getting into your car or getting on a plane, but I’m asking in the strongest of terms for us to stay put to stay in our communities.”

Pollster Angus Reid asked British Columbians if they plan to travel outside their community or province to visit friends or relatives over the holidays. While only 6 per cent said yes, 21 per cent said they would visit friends and family locally, which Dr. Henry also doesn’t want. 

“If you are a public health official and your dream is to see that number as close to zero as possible, one in five does represent a lot of people,” said Angus Reid executive director Shachi Kurl. 

While Whistler’s mayor can’t prevent people from coming to his community and can’t ask skiers and boarders where they’re from, he’s espousing self responsibility. 

“My encouragement is that we manage our own six feet, we manage our own household, we manage our own actions to ensure that we are a part of flattening this curve,” said Crompton.