Mount Geoffrey Provincial Park on Hornby Island. Photo courtesy Mountain Bike BC

Hornby, Denman request temporary break from visitors

Associations and government officials on Hornby and Denman Islands have united in respectfully requesting that visitors and residents observe the guidance of the BC Health Office and the Canadian government, issued March 19, to self-isolate at home, and to reduce all non-essential travel and movement.

Hornby Island, known to many as a major tourism destination, is bracing for the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most restaurants, resorts, and businesses have chosen to close to safeguard local at-risk residents. However, with the nearest hospital two ferry rides away, an outbreak of COVID-19 would pose a particular challenge for Hornby residents. The situation on neighbouring Denman Island is similar.

“We have a particularly vulnerable population here, with almost 50 per cent of our population over 55, compared to 25 per cent in B.C.,” Denman Island trustee Laura Busheikin said. “Please stay home.”

The presence of visitors and guests on the islands would increase the strain on the local medical system and first responders, and limit the communities’ ability to prevent the spread of the virus.

Hornby is experiencing major capital investment with many projects underway.

“Tourism is the engine that drives our local economy,” said Karen Ross of the Hornby Island Economic Enhancement Corporation. “Our accommodation providers, artists, craftspeople and hospitality businesses are adaptable and industrious, and look forward to sharing the new changes to the island with its visitor community when the pandemic eases.”

The Hornby Island Short Term Rental Association (HISTRA) website says: “We understand the virus is likely to be part of society for some time to come, and in the coming weeks we will dedicate ourselves to consider new measures and guidelines to reduce the risk of COVID-19.”

Updates on the Hornby community’s response to COVID-19 will be posted on every two weeks following the March 21 announcement.

Hornby is still a beautiful island, and when the pandemic eases and the summer weather arrives, we will once again welcome visitors to our island. Keep checking in, and keep us in your long-range plans!

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