Nelson’s mayor says he supports the provincial government’s plan to make vaccine passports required for visits to restaurants, movies and indoor group activities.
Mayor John Dooley said Monday he believes the program will push more people to get both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as new cases surge in the Nelson local health area, which includes Salmo and parts of the Slocan Valley.
“Hopefully, it’ll be enough to inspire people to at least take a hard look at why they’re not vaccinated,” said Dooley.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement that masks would once again be mandatory in all indoor settings, the City of Nelson had already previously taken the step of making masks required in all city-owned buildings such as the Civic Centre, City Hall, the Nelson Public Library, Capitol Theatre, Nelson Curling Club, and the Nelson and District Youth Centre.
But COVID-19 has skyrocketed in the Nelson local health area in July and August, with 229 new cases between July 25 to Aug. 14, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
Two residents with COVID-19 have also died at Nelson Jubilee Manor seniors facility, according to Interior Health.
Dooley said he’s become concerned that Nelson’s reputation has been damaged now that it is a provincial hotspot.
Only 62 per cent of eligible people in the Nelson local health area were fully vaccinated as of Aug. 17, according to BCCDC. Just 66 per cent of people ages 18 to 49 have had only one shot, and only 53 per cent are fully vaccinated.
“That has been on my mind. Is it going to put people off coming to our community?” he said. “But I think now with a passport coming into effect in the next month or so, that will give people more confidence to go to and from our community.”
On Monday, the Nelson Road Kings car show announced it was cancelling its two-day event in September because of the rise in cases.
Dooley said he was disappointed that had to happen, and believes it wouldn’t have been the case if more residents were vaccinated.
“The reality of the situation is right now that we’re dealing with an age group of people who have decided for one reason or another, they may be anti-vaccine group, but there’s definitely people out there who I think just didn’t get around to get vaccinated. …,” said Dooley, who added he hopes people take advantage of Interior Health’s pop-up vaccine clinics.
“We have to go forward from here, and I’m positive that these steps are a really good stepping stone.”
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