On March 27, 2020, B.C. had 67 new cases of COVID-19 and a total of 792 cases to that date. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains were closed. The mayor and council and Tourism Whistler were telling people to stay home and not to come to Whistler to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Whistler was a ghost town. If you walked up the Village Stroll you would only pass one or two people. We were all concerned and compliant in our efforts to curb COVID-19.
On March 26, 2021, B.C. had 964 new cases of COVID-19 with a past seven-day average of 612 new cases. If you walked up the Village Stroll it looked like Mardi Gras or Florida during spring break. Keeping two metres from other people would be impossible. In many places, keeping one metre from people would be impossible. Many people were not wearing masks. Compliance was non-existent or minimal at best.
What a difference one year makes. While many locals are minimizing their exposure by staying home and reducing their outings to essential needs or a socially distanced day skiing, the business community appears to be welcoming visitors with open arms in unlimited numbers. The mayor and council and Tourism Whistler are clearly complicit in this as there hasn’t been any recent effort to curb visitor numbers despite a surge in local COVID-19 cases working its way through restaurant and frontline service staff. This is not the way to stop COVID-19. Recently on the TV news there was an example where one person testing positive for COVID-19 had 300 contacts.
Compare this to New Zealand, where they had one new case on March 27, 2021 and a seven-day average of four. New Zealand’s population is 5 million, which is almost identical to B.C.’s 5.15 million. Clearly New Zealand’s strict early prevention policy was effective. If we actually want to curb COVID-19 in Whistler, it is time for Whistler’s leaders to step up and take the lead by changing the current policy of encouraging visitors. This won’t be an easy decision. But people don’t get elected or hired to make easy decisions—they get elected or hired to make tough decisions. If we are to have any hope of curbing COVID-19 we need tough decisions and compliance from residents and visitors, not this selfish attitude of entitlement. If we don’t change our ways we will be repeating last year again next year. The choice is yours.
Bryce Leigh // Whistler