Whistler Doctor Encouraging Travel Ban for People from Outside British Columbia, Canada

Liam Abbott | | Industry NewsIndustry News
One advantage of less skiers on the mountain is more powder for those who stay. Image courtesy of Andrew Strain via Whistler Blackcomb’s Facebook.

Since cases started to rise back in September, many Canadians have been calling for travel bans amongst the provinces to be reinstated. Now, Dr. Annie Gareau, an ER doctor in Whistler, is calling for British Columbia to invoke a travel ban on people coming from out of the province.

As CBC News reported this past Wednesday, this statement comes after the busy holiday season in Whistler, in which Dr. Gareau witnessed a “worrying” amount of people from outside of the province, particularly from Ontario and Quebec visiting the ER.

Dr. Gareau went on to say, “We have a limited capacity. Our waiting room is small, so definitely at one point in time between Christmas and New Year’s, it was unsettling the amount of patients that were in the clinic.”

British Columbia seems to be handling the recent COVID-19 surge much better than other provinces in Canada, with their cases being under a third of the rate as provinces such as Quebec and still under half the rate as Ontario and Alberta. With new COVID-19 variants also being discovered in Ontario recently, Dr. Gareau’s reasoning is understandable.

January 15th, 2021 statistics on COVID-19 cases broken down by province in Canada. Image courtesy of The New York Times. Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada.


Dr. Gareau sights the example of what Canada’s Atlantic provinces have done: to create a ‘bubble,’ requiring people traveling from out of province to quarantine for 14 days. This strategy proved very effective in eastern Canada, practically eliminating the virus there.

“I think we need to do like the Atlantic provinces did, and I think we need to restrict inter-provincial travel until the numbers are going down.”

Another idea which many have suggested is making the ski resorts the ones responsible for limiting out of province visitors, but as the CBC was told last month by a representative of Vail Resorts (owners of Whistler), they believe it is their guests “personal responsibility” to listen to government health advice.

Current Travel Restrictions

Currently, Americans are banned from traveling to Canada, and other foreigners who are allowed must enter a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival. On January 26th, all people arriving in Canada must also have a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of the final leg of departure.

These stricter rules have proved to be effective in discouraging international travelers from skiing in British Columbia; the question is if this is necessary to do on fellow Canadians.

Whatever British Columbia decides, hopefully, it will be in time to keep cases at their current levels, if not lower them. We have seen by the example of the province of Ontario that if cases get bad enough, they might just completely shut down ski resorts altogether.

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