As Osoyoos’ busiest time of year approaches Mayor Sue McKortoff hopes that visitors will remain mindful of social distancing protocols amid COVID-19. Recent crowds and a spike of cases in the Okanagan has ignited concerns among some residents. (File photo)

Mayor of Osoyoos urges social distancing ahead of busiest time of year

Residents have raised concerns regarding hotels and bars as town’s busiest time of year approaches

As tourism season ramps up in the South Okanagan, Osoyoos hotels are booked near capacity and concerns over social distancing are on the rise.

Hotels in Osoyoos are currently booked at 95 per cent capacity and the town’s mayor, Sue McKortoff expects more out-of-town traffic with the August long-weekend approaching.

“My concern is this weekend because the long-weekend in August is typically our busiest time,” said the mayor.

McKortoff is urging people to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. This comes after a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Kelowna was traced to private parties in the city in early July.

READ MORE: Ninety COVID-19 cases related to Kelowna cluster

McKortoff says she has not heard of any particular instances of overcrowded hotel parties, but she also hasn’t been to hotels to observe the crowds.

McKortoff has received a handful of complaints from concerned residents regarding overcrowded bars and shops. In this instance, she urges people to refrain from entering the establishments.

“I hope they turned around and went out and didn’t continue,” said the mayor. She also said the same message stands for hotel rooms.

B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued a provincial health order July 27 limiting the number of guests and visitors in short-term vacation rental homes and houseboats control the size of parties. However, this does not apply to hotels.

READ MORE: B.C. sets limits on number of guests, visitors in vacation rentals, houseboats

WorkSafeBC and regional health authorities have rules in place to enforce social distancing, however Mckortoff urged all hotel, bar and shop owners to take responsibility for how many people are allowed in at once.

For the most part, McKortoff thinks establishments have been following the rules but she also knows that can’t be said for everyone.

“I don’t know what to do. Do we fine people? If we fine people that are not following the rules we can educate and suggest that they do but we can’t evict them or tell them to do something different, but I think that business owners would certainly have that right,” she said.

McKortoff said it comes down being respectful and caring of others. If people take a moment to think about the consequences of their actions it could prevent a lot of unsafe behaviour, she said.

“You have to look after yourself and protect yourself and that way you’re helping to protect the community… I have not heard of any wild times at hotels but my goodness I certainly hope there aren’t.”



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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