Provincial, national COVID-response focus of virtual town hall

The provincial and federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic was front and centre during Delta’s ninth virtual town hall meeting Thursday afternoon.

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon and Delta MP Carla Qualtrough were at city hall along with Mayor George Harvie.

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A variety of questions were posed from residents through Facebook and Instagram on a variety of issues related to COVID-19.

Below is a selection of those questions along with the answers.

Q: Is there a date set for when the city will open all recreation centres and what safety plans are in place?

A:“Right now we are waiting for the required review by WorkSafe and it is going for all recreation city facilities in B.C. A plan has been submitted,” said Harvie. “Once that rolls out with an approval from WorkSafe we will work with council and a parks and rec commission to develop a strategy. It was so easy to close, but so hard to open. We are on it.”

Q: I really want to support local businesses and restaurants during this difficult time. What is the best way to do that by keeping myself and my family safe at the same time?

A: “It’s really a message of buy local, eat local, shop local – just unapologetically support Delta – be Team Delta,” said Qualtrough. “Maybe you used to go outside Delta to find your pasta dish, but there are wonderful restaurants around our community. You don’t have to eat in, you can eat on a patio, or take-out, there are so many options. I think the Chamber, Ladner Business Association and the Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association are doing such a good job telling citizens where they can go to find goods and services including food.”

Kahlon added that if you do order a meal, go and pick it up yourself instead of using delivery apps.

“A lot of these restaurants do have service through apps, but those apps take a certain percentage of income and it’s really important that they have that support, so if you truly want to support a restaurant, order from them and go and pick it up because that little bit of support will make a difference.”

Q: With lots of businesses reopening this week who is responsible that they meet physical distancing requirements?

A: “If you see a violation you can call WorkSafe and you can also contact Fraser Health,” said Harvie. “There will be random inspections all over B.C. I’m sure it will work out. Businesses will have to pivot and change quickly.”

Qualtrough added that she feels it will be market driven.

“Where we feel safer as citizens, where we feel more taken care of and respected in where we feel like the rules are being followed, businesses will be rewarded by that behavior,” she said. “If I go there and I feel like we are safe, I will go back.”

Q: If a second wave hits later this fall, will we have to close things down again like we did in March?

A:“The Premier, Minister Dix and Dr. Henry have addressed this. We are planning for a second wave,” said Kahlon. “We know that influenza starts to rise at that time [fall], so we are planning our infrastructure, our hospitals for that because we have to plan for the worst like we have to this point and hope for the best. I think the one thing we have an advantage now is knowledge. We have a lot of experience and knowledge from other jurisdictions, so that is what is guiding Canada and B.C. Our hope is that all the lessons we are learning will help protect us so that we don’t have to do a full shutdown. As long as people keep acting responsibly, I feel confident that we will be in a better place.”

Harvie added that he has received some criticism by people saying we have done too much.

“Well I would rather be criticized for doing too much than not enough,” he said.

Q: What are we hearing about a vaccine?

A:“There is a lot of talk around the world, who is where in terms of developing a vaccine, who Canada should partner with. I very firmly believe that international multi-lateral organizations like the World Health Organization…not perfect…but I can’t imagine going through this global pandemic without some international coordinating body,” said Qualtrough. “I think we are still a year away. These things take time.”

Kahlon said the province is hopeful, but they are planning for the long run.

“There isn’t a single person that doesn’t want it yesterday, but the reality is where we are at,” he said. “I’m not going to be drinking bleach tomorrow, or taking experimental drugs because someone told me it was the right thing to do. I highly recommend that no one does this. Let’s wait for the studies to be done and the right okays at the national level and take the appropriate steps.”

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