Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett has apologized after publishing promotional material that suggested Tofino residents have all been vaccinated and the community is safe for tourists to travel to.
In a recent ‘Tidbits from Tim’ newsletter update, Hackett wrote about the resort’s green initiatives and restaurant offerings and added that the resort is welcoming visitors from Vancouver Island this spring with protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The post also suggested that Tofino residents have all been vaccinated and that the community is safe to travel to.
“I am happy to report that over a three week period, everyone in Tofino, regardless of their age, has received their first Covid-19 injection. This makes Tofino safe for residents, people working in the hospitality industry, and really importantly, our guests,” the post reads.
Community-wide vaccination clinics began in Tofino and Ucluelet on April 12 and residents over the age of 18 are eligible to make appointments. The entire community has not yet been vaccinated and the province is expected to announce increased restrictions on non-essential travel on Friday due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Hackett’s post was shared through social media by concerned residents expressing frustration and Tofino mayor Dan Law told the Westerly News the post was forwarded to him on Thursday morning and he was dismayed to see false information being shared with potential travellers.
“When I first read it, I was a bit shocked because it’s just not true and I was disappointed to see that kind of misinformation being posted by the owner of a prominent resort in our community, very disappointed,” Law said. “It will be interesting to see the reaction from the community and it will be interesting to see the reaction from the province. That’s what I’ll be quite interested to see, knowing that the province has made it very clear that now is not the time to travel and vacationing is not essential travel.”
He noted not all residents have been vaccinated as appointments are expected to run through April and that vaccinations take roughly three weeks to be effective, adding that Island Health and provincial health authorities have been working hard to distribute vaccines safely and efficiently as well as to keep British Columbians informed.
“To see this (resort) subvert all of that effort in one poorly informed post to potential visitors to Tofino is just utterly disappointing,” he said.
Hackett issued a brief apology at 1:45 p.m. Thursday.
“To our community and guests…Please accept my sincerest apologies for my recent comments about the west coast community vaccines. I am not an expert and should not have commented on it,” reads the apology distributed by Long Beach Lodge via email. “We defer to our Island Health and Provincial experts for information.”
The apology includes a link to an upcoming Public Forum for West Coast communities being hosted by Island Health on April 27.
Law said the response to COVID-19 has varied in Tofino, with some accommodations and businesses shutting down and others remaining open.
“The municipality doesn’t enforce provincial orders. That’s outside of our jurisdiction and as you can see, businesses are able to advertise as they wish and function as they wish,” he said. “As far as I know, we do not have the ability as a municipality to enforce or react to this kind of advertising or misinformation.”
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