It remains to be seen how effective a new provincial health order forbidding non-essential travel will be in stopping the spread of COVID.
The order went into place Friday, April 23, and will continue until May 25.
Travel between three areas of the province, based on health authority regions, is restricted and violations could result in a fine of $575.
Further, abusive or belligerent behaviour related to the order is punishable by a $230 ticket.
“Our objective is still seeking voluntary compliance and education,” said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes in an interview with the Spotlight.
Tickets here may be issued “if certain conditions are met,” he added.
In the Princeton area specifically, there will be no road side checks at this time, however Hughes said “that could change at any minute.”
People may travel between the Interior Health Authority and the Northern Health Authority, but the order effectively blocks travel from the Lower Mainland to the Similkameen.
The move has created consternation and considerable debate among some people who live outside the area but have seasonal homes in rural Princeton and Tulameen.
In answer to a question from the Spotlight posted to a public Facebook group, Tony Cook wrote: “I’m planning to go up. If anyone doesn’t like it I invite them to stay out of my yard.”
Andrea Derkoch Smyrski is also planning to visit her property. “We are coming. We need to care (for) and maintain our place. But like all before us we will stick to our place and bring all of our stuff with us. We are not coming to party. I would not call it a vacation either. We will keep you safe Tulameen, by doing our part.”
Victoria Anderson Manz feels she can make her own choices. “I don’t make any stops, bring with me what I need. If people in town pop over while I’m there, I’m happy to see them. Three of my family members are tested weekly for their jobs. I’m safe. I’m an adult, I’m a reasonable person who can make a call on whether I need to stay home.”
Only an emergency would tempt Sharen Rogers to travel. “(We) will abide by the rules – will only visit the cabin prior to May 24 (for now) unless we are subject to flooding.”
Tami Rose hopes those with rental properties have cancelled reservations. “It’s one thing as a homeowner to come up, stay in your yard and do maintenance, but hopefully any cabin owners that had rentals booked for the next five weeks have cancelled them. Unfortunately it’s those rental people that might disrespect the rules more so than regulars here.”
Hughes acknowledged the Facebook comments. “Any perusal of social media shows there is a core group of people who refuse to abide by the rules. If you choose to be one of those people you may be subject to a $575 fine.”
Area H director Bob Coyne is keeping an eye on the situation, but admits he has no control.
“If people want to disregard provincial health orders and the premier that’s way above my pay grade,” he said.
“Some people are following the orders of Dr. Bonnie Henry and others aren’t…I think people are tired and they just don’t know how to deal with it anymore. They are reacting differently than they possibly would have in normal times.”
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