–District of Sooke media release
BC’s (careful) Restart Plan is to be phased in responsibly, with a common-sense approach – and practical decision-making. Residents are still encouraged to stay close to home, whenever possible.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit BC, the District of Sooke, the Sooke business community, residents and service organizations have rallied together to support one another and act responsibly. Business practices and service models have altered, people are staying home – and collectively, we are helping to flatten the curve.
As of May 1, 2020, more than 2,100 British Columbians tested positive for COVID-19. The rate of growth in COVID-19 cases has steadily declined and more than 1,350 people have recovered. These actions have resulted in BC having the lowest mortality of any jurisdiction in North America or Europe with a population of more than five million. BC’s Restart Plan outlines four phases to get back to a ‘new normal’.
“We will be proceeding carefully, bit by bit, one step at a time,” Horgan explained. Measures to manage the impact of the pandemic will be in place until a vaccine has been announced.
What getting back to the ‘new normal’ looks like for the community of Sooke
Residents are asked to remain vigilant by continuing to: wash hands, stay home when sick, clean surfaces – and stay 6 feet away from others, whenever possible. This applies from now until Phase 4 of BC’s Restart Plan. COVID-19 will not be entirely behind us until there is a vaccine, or herd immunity. If transmission rates remain low, the province’s phased approach will allow for the following:
- Gathering in small groups of two to six people to allow some interaction and social time with friends and family is recommended, with caution and common sense. Keep your exposure bubble small.
- Businesses, services and restaurants are developing plans to re-open safely as part of Phase 2, as long as they can meet sufficient distancing measures. This includes health services and elective surgeries, counselling, hair salons and spas, pubs, museums, art galleries, etc. Opening of hotels and resorts and select entertainment (smaller symphonies), are outlined in Phase 3.
- Schools and childcare – schools expected to return to a ‘new normal’ by September 2020. A phased approach to resuming in-class instruction will be made in the coming weeks. A voluntary, partial return to safely get some kids back to school before the summer is being explored. How these changes unfold are the focus of intensive discussion among Ministry of Education officials, school trustees, the BC Teachers’ Federation, CUPE, and other education partners. School districts are also exploring alternative ways to help the graduates of 2020 celebrate and mark this significant milestone in a meaningful way. Reopening more childcare centres/facilities is identified in Phase 2 – again, with additional precautions.
- Recreation centres – opportunities are being explored by the BC Recreation and Parks and Association for community leisure centres, including summer camps and activities for kids to continue. The CRD will announce updates about the use of the SEAPARC Leisure Complex once plans are in place. SEAPARC’s DeMamiel Creek Golf Course was opened for public use on May 1, 2020, with significant steps to support golfer and staff safety.
- Parks and travel – Provincial Parks will re-open on May 14th for day use only. Residents are being asked to explore nearby parks and greenspaces. Travelling too far outside of your community – and all non-essential travel – is still being discouraged. District of Sooke Parks were reopened to the public on May 1st with recommendations in place for safe use. Sooke Parks play structures remain closed until further notice. Broader reopening of overnight camping in BC Parks may transpire in Phase 3 (June).
- No large crowd-style events of more than 50 people.
What getting back to the ‘new normal’ looks like at the Municipal Hall
“We will continue to follow the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, and work in conjunction with neighbouring local governments, to be consistent with others in the Capital Regional in re-opening our facilities and services,” says Mayor, Maja Tait.
The District of Sooke closed its doors to the public on March 16, 2020 and ramped up its capability to serve the public remotely. This virtual service model will continue for the coming weeks, with a blended service model (virtual and face-to-face) being phased in as available staff return to work later in May and into June (Phase 2). The District’s Back to Work plan is currently being finalized, and strongly considers the safety of staff, Council and residents. The plan endeavours to be consistent with that of other municipalities within the Greater Victoria region, and align with WorkSafeBC requirements.
Council meetings will be held once again in Council Chamber, effective May 19th, but will not be open to the public until social distancing measures, and WorkSafeBC requirements, can be met. Public comments are welcome and can be submitted electronically.
The focus of efforts in Sooke – and across BC – have been to protect residents by slowing the rate of transmission. BC’s Restart Plan is the first in a series of steps that residents will take together to protect people and ensure our province, and the community of Sooke can come back from COVID-19 stronger than before. Your continued support, and positive action, is appreciated.