Travel restrictions stock image, no date. Photo credit: Pixabay

The Editor’s Desk: Looking for loopholes

The recent travel restrictions have inspired a lot of people to try to find ways around them

The B.C. government has clarified details around the travel restrictions in place through the May long weekend, and goodness me, I’ll bet there haven’t been so many people looking for loopholes outside of a knitters’ convention.

Never mind that there is a broad range of exceptions to the restrictions: you can travel just about anywhere in B.C. for work, education, or medical reasons, or because you’re moving, or helping someone else receive health care, or transporting commercial goods, or returning to your principal residence.

Interior Health and Northern Health have been combined into one zone, inside which you could comfortably fit several good-sized European countries. Indeed, a quick calculation shows that you could slot Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Luxembourg into the 816,000 square kilometres of the combined Interior and Northern Health regions, and still have room left to include a side trip to Monaco if you were so inclined.

Just because you can travel somewhere doesn’t mean you should, however, given that whole global pandemic/rising case count/overtaxed medical system situation we’re currently dealing with. The restrictions are also only in place temporarily, until we can get more people vaccinated.

Yet there has been a non-stop chorus of complaining about these restrictions. Never, it seems, have so many people who don’t live there desperately needed to go to Nelson, or Nanaimo, or Nakusp, or Naramata, or Nimpo Lake, or anywhere else in B.C. that might or might not start with the letter “N”. And they seem to need to go there right this very minute; waiting until after the Victoria Day weekend simply won’t do.

I’ve heard a few people on the news complain about having to postpone planned holidays; holidays they were looking forward to as a way to unwind and de-stress after the last year. I will mildly point out the blindingly obvious — that we all want to unwind and de-stress after the last year — so I’m not entirely sure what makes these people such very special snowflakes. Also, complaining that you’ve had to delay your wine-tasting weekend in the Okanagan, or your golf getaway in the Rockies, might not garner you quite as much sympathy as you expect, from those who can only dream of such delights at the best of times.

And why are these restrictions necessary? I’m glad you asked! For a year now, B.C. residents have been advised to restrict travel to their own area, for essential reasons only. On Easter weekend I had to go to Cache Creek for work-related reasons (did you know that journalists are classed as essential workers?), and on my way there and back I saw a steady stream of RVs and campers heading north along Highway 1. I don’t think I’m wildly off-base in suspecting that these were not essential trips, unless there are an awful lot of British Columbians whose only family vehicle is a 35-foot RV and who all had urgent work, education, or medical reasons to hit the road in their recreational vehicle on a sunny long weekend.

Yes; as usual, it’s a few people spoiling things for the rest of us, which is why we can’t have nice things. That brings us back round to the loopholes everyone is so desperate to find, to allow them to do that thing they want to do but know they really shouldn’t be doing, hence the search for justification.

Please, just take a deep breath, look at the calendar, and reflect on the fact that all of the communities listed a few paragraphs back are lovely places with many charms and delights, and well worth a visit. All we’re being asked is not to make that visit right now. I’m fairly confident that they will still be there when we’re allowed to travel freely once more, and the inhabitants will welcome you with open (and hopefully vaccinated) arms.

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