'We are getting back to that feeling of normalcy': business official optimistic about ease of COVID-19 restrictions
Prince Rupert Port. (Visit Prince Rupert/Instagram)
B.C. is taking its next step to lift COVID-19 restrictions starting with masks and moving onto vaccine passports. Starting April 8, people no longer have to provide proof of vaccination to businesses or events. This announcement follows the lift of the mask mandate for indoor public places which was implemented on March 11.
"British Columbians have made tremendous sacrifices and worked hard to do their part over the past two years by following the advice and direction of Dr. Henry," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
Tom Keller, President of The Chamber of Commerce, anticipates that this summer will look very different from past ones, noting that the area could see a surge in visitors.
"For the northwest, cruise ships are coming back to Prince Rupert. What that shows is that we are getting back to that feeling of normalcy," Keller adds. "Terrace is an outdoors town, we have a huge fishing tourism industry which has been negatively impacted for multiple reasons. Our guides are looking for an opportunity to get back out there and this is going to open those doors."
Keller is optimistic about annual travelers revisiting the Terrace area as these groups will bring in more business for the shops around the city who've been struggling during the pandemic.
"We have a lot of European customers that come back to Terrace for these annual trips so our business owners are picking up the phone and calling these people because we're seeing levels of normalcy again. Really, it brings back what keeps many of our people afloat."
On Friday, businesses around B.C. will transition from a COVID-19 safety plan to a general communicable disease plan. Work places and businesses can still require mask-wearing and the vaccine card if they choose.
Keller’s goal is to prepare businesses for what is to come.
"People need to prepare for inventory. We might need to support businesses in other ways, like helping them find financial options."
Provincial vaccination passport programs have already ended in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.