Mayor Colin Basran's statement on COVID-19 in Kelowna

July 23, 2020

“Good afternoon… and thank you for joining me.

“We acknowledge that our community is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the syilx/Okanagan people.

“I’d like to speak frankly about COVID-19 and the recent and concerning spike in cases in Kelowna.  

“Dr. Henry and the BC government have moved into Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan which encourages citizens to take part “in smart, safe and respectful travel within B.C.”

“Dr. Henry has said she expected to see an increase in COVID-19 cases as BC began to re-open – but she reiterated this week that we are at a tipping point. 

“I know we are all tired of COVID-19– but this isn’t forever.  Our ability to enjoy the rest of our summer, restart our economy and keep our loved ones and front-line staff safe depends largely on our ability to contain the spread of this virus.  

And that’s up to us. I know together we can do this and while difficult, we have already proved we could during the early stages of the pandemic. 

“Summer is a social time of year, especially in Kelowna, but we need everyone to be as careful now as we were in Phase 1 of our response to COVID-19. This sudden increase of cases in Kelowna shows us how quickly things can change.

“And this is not just about tourists or those travelling to our community.

“I will again stress that we need everyone -- and particularly this age group of people in their 20s and 30s --  to keep themselves and the people they love safe by maintaining a safe physical distance, washing hands frequently, staying home if they feel sick and wearing a mask in places where physical distancing isn’t always possible. 

“Keep your bubble small. Limit personal gatherings to six.  Fewer faces, bigger spaces.

“So what can the City do?

“Starting next week a City team will visit beaches, boat launches, parks, recreation facilities and other areas where people gather to remind everyone to take the proper precautions and be respectful of others’ possible health risks.

“We will continue to educate and emphasize public health orders. In the coming days, our Bylaw Services will join WorksafeBC, BC Liquor Enforcement and Interior Health to inspect, educate and enforce Provincial Health Orders focused on businesses.  

“We helped local businesses comply with public health orders and Worksafe BC requirements by expanding commercial space onto sidewalks and streets in business centres so that safe physical distancing can be maintained.

“I commend businesses that are diligent about following safety precautions and I urge all businesses to take this threat seriously.

“As a City, we have provided most business services online and by appointment throughout this crisis, and we will continue to expand these online options as a convenient and efficient way to do business with the City.

“Recent changes to the City’s homepage, kelowna.ca, made it easier to report an issue, make a request or access services online.

“We are seeing some encouraging signs around economic recovery. Real estate values are holding steady and even increasing compared to 2019, and construction values are now very close to the 10-year average.

“I’m encouraged by these positive economic indicators. Let’s not take a step backward by ignoring the risks.

“So my ask to you – whether citizen or visitor -  is please follow the rules to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community – for everyone’s sake.  The City has and will continue to follow the direction of the Province, which has laid out a framework that if followed will allow us to re-open safely and enjoy our Okanagan summer.”