Blockade to be erected at Sutton Pass to remind visitors of tribal park closures, says Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks

Leading into Easter long weekend, the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks has issued a release reminding visitors to respect the ongoing closure of their tribal parks. 

“Regional members and concerned families in the region have mobilized to Sutton Pass to inform travellers of the circuit-breaker lockdown,” said Saya Masso, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation tribal administrator.

To tackle the record number of COVID-19 cases, the province announced a three-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown on Monday.

The measures, which include the closing of indoor dining at restaurants and bars, a ban on adult group fitness activities, an end to indoor religious services and the shut-down of Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort, will remain in place until Monday, April 19.

The province is urging people to avoid all non-essential travel.

On Wednesday, the province recorded the highest-ever single-day total of new COVID-19 cases. Health officials reported 1,013 new cases, as well as three additional deaths.                                                                

“We recognize that some visitors may have traveled long distances against Dr. Bonnie Henry’s orders for the long weekend,” read the release from Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks. “But ask that you please respect the ongoing closure and return home.”

Despite being vaccinated, community members in Tseshaht First Nation are feeling “uneasy” about the rising COVID-19 cases in B.C., said Tseshaht elected chief Ken Watts.

“There’s a lot of nervousness right now,” he said. “I respect everybody’s concerns.”

In spite of the rising cases, the province’s immunization program is moving along. 

As of March 30, Indigenous peoples over 18 are eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

The remaining population continues to be limited to 73 years and older.

Under Island Health’s “whole community” immunization approach, anyone over the age of 18 living in Tofino, Ucluelet or Port Hardy is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting April 12.

Eligible residents can call 1-833-348-4787 to book a vaccination appointment with Island Health.

As “members of the region” aim to inform travelers that Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks is “not welcoming guests at this time,” Masso said he understands their “plight.”

These individuals are concerned about the safety of their families, particularly as new variants of the virus begin to take shape, said the release.

“We’re worried,” said Masso. ”And want to remind people of the need for essential travel only.”

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