Gabriola Island. (News Bulletin file photo)

Gabriola Island. (News Bulletin file photo)

Visitors asked to stay away from Gabriola Island during COVID-19 pandemic

Islands Trust makes public plea for people to avoid non-essential visits to Gulf Islands

Gulf Islands residents want to self-isolate themselves from pretty much everybody else during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Islands Trust announced Sunday that trustees are “going public with a plea for people to stay away” from the Gulf Islands, including Gabriola and Mudge islands near Nanaimo, as a coronavirus precaution.

A press release from Islands Trust suggested that the move will “reduce pressure on limited island services.” Trustees are also asking residents of the Gulf Islands to stay home and practise social distancing.

“Now is not the time to be visiting the islands,” said Peter Luckham, chairman of the Islands Trust council, in a press release. “Most Gulf Islands have a median age of over 60 years old and limited or no medical services. First responders are volunteers who are practising sheltering in place in order to be available for normal emergencies. We urge everyone to stay home and avoid discretionary travel to and from the islands. As ferry-dependent communities, we are especially vulnerable and face additional challenges. Now is not the time to take a holiday or visit your vacation property.”

The release noted as well that many Gulf Island businesses, including restaurants, are “understocked, understaffed, and closing down or significantly limiting their services.”

Luckham said the islands “look forward to welcoming visitors again when it is safe to do so.”

Over the past few days, Quadra, Hornby and Denman islands have made similar requests, asking non-residents to avoid non-essential visits. Last week the municipalities of Tofino and Ucluelet asked visitors to postpone travel to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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