The District of Sicamous offices along with other public buildings are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)

Sicamous residents urged to remain calm in the face of COVID-19 pandemic

Mayor Terry Rysz urged residents to cooperate and heed government advice on the virus.

The electronic sign outside the District of Sicamous’ office alternates between a notice that it is closed to the public and a quote from Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Public Health Officer who has been the face of the province’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is our time to be kind, be calm and be safe,” the quote reads.

Sicamous’ response to the pandemic is being guided by Henry’s provincewide strategy and her emphasis on composure in the face of the virus.

“Remember to be kind. I know Sicamous residents are some of the kindest people in Canada,” said Mayor Terry Rysz in a video address to the community.

“It is our duty and yours to be socially responsible. Everyone needs to take action to ensure our mutual welfare.”

Read More: Doctors of B.C. urged to stand behind official messaging, as some say response is lacking

Read More: Interior Health cancels day programs, prioritizes admissions to protect seniors receiving care

In the video, Rysz goes on to say that Sicamous’ council is following directions from higher levels of government and getting information from weekly conference calls with provincial officials and representatives of many of B.C.’s other municipalities.

Rysz reiterated the order from the provincial health officer that all businesses that are unable to maintain social distancing between staff and customers should close. He went on to repeat the advice from the provincial authorities that people should remain home whenever possible, wash their hands frequently and keep a two metre distance between people.

Unless they are under a quarantine or self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms or a recent return from a foreign country, Rysz advised people to get outside and enjoy the spring sunshine while keeping a courteous distance from others. He added that courtesy is also necessary when shopping to make sure there are enough essential items to go around.

The spreading virus which led the province to declare a state of emergency on Wednesday, March 18 has also caused the closure the district’s offices. Rysz said while the office is closed to the public, staff would still be on hand and able to assist residents by phone or email.

Read More: More than 400 COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths in B.C.

Read More: All B.C. distillers now authorized to make hand sanitizer as COVID-19 leads to shortages

In Rysz’s video he says that the next District of Sicamous Council meeting, scheduled for March 25 will go ahead so council can discuss essential services and keep district business moving forward. While the meeting will be open to the public, Rysz urged people to stay home to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Despite the seriousness of the present public health crisis, Rysz urged calm and thanked those who are responsibly following the guidelines set out by the government.

“This is a surreal, unprecedented and scary time for everyone. Together we will get through this,” he said.

The pandemic has also led to the suspension of all of the District Rec Programs and the closure of the Sicamous and District Rec Centre. Although the Sicamous Eagles had already been taken out of contention before the KIJHL playoffs were cancelled due to COVID-19, other hockey events in Sicamous have been disrupted by the virus. The Eagles prospects camp which had been scheduled for April 17 to 20 and the alumni game which was supposed to be played on April 18 have been postponed indefinitely to be rescheduled when no further health risks from COVID-19 remain. The ice plant at the Rec Centre has been shut down and the ice is being taken out.

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