The MV Sealth sails from Orcas to Shaw Island on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2021. (Mandi Johnson/staff photo)

The MV Sealth sails from Orcas to Shaw Island on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2021. (Mandi Johnson/staff photo)

EDITORIAL: Lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions welcomed

British Columbians no longer need to ask if they are taking a trip for the right reasons

The province of British Columbia is relaxing its COVID-19 restrictions and residents are permitted to take out-of-region trips once again.

The second phase of the provincial reopening plan allows Okanagan residents to travel to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, while people living in the Lower Mainland can explore the province’s Interior.

Many are already planning their trips and last week, within an hour after the provincial announcement about the loosening of restrictions, the BC Ferries website was down.

READ ALSO: Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

READ ALSO: U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Allowing recreational travel means British Columbians no longer need to ask if they are taking a trip for the right reasons. It is fine to discover all parts of our province once again.

This is welcome news for tourism-related businesses and for everyone who has been postponing travel as a result of the earlier restrictions. However, while this loosening of restrictions is welcome news, it is important to remember the pandemic is not over.

The mask mandate still remains in place, and it will still be some time before all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

Since March 2020, restrictions have been in place because of the global pandemic, and even now, as many British Columbians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, new cases of the virus are still being recorded each day.

In addition, the delta variant, or B.1.617, is a more contagious variant of the initial COVID-19 virus.

This variant must be considered in determining COVID-19 mandates and protocols.

As more people receive vaccines and as the number of new cases continues to decline, additional restrictions will be relaxed.

And eventually, the pandemic will be a part of our past rather than a constant part of our present.

– Black Press

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