To date, Bella Coola has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19. (Bella Coola Valley-Nuxalk Nation Coordinated Information Bulletin Facebook)

Checkpoint at Bella Coola Valley shifts to informational purposes only

Travellers are being advised most accommodations and sites remain closed

Permits are no longer required for visitors wanting to enter the Bella Coola Valley, however, tourism is still not being encouraged

The Nuxalk Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) stopped issuing travel permits as of July 1, 2020.

The 24-hour checkpoint at Kettle Pond on Highway 20 is for informational purposes only.

“We felt things were improving in the province,” said EOC co-director Terry Webber. “Although permits are not required checkpoints are still taking information and monitoring who is coming in and going.”

Read More: Threats, racism being directed at COVID-19 checkpoint staff: Remote B.C. First Nation

Most accommodations and tourism opportunities remain closed in the Bella Coola Valley. Visit Bella Coola posted July 3 that they will respect the ‘difficult’ decision made by the Nuxalk Nation Stataltmc leadership to remain closed due to the uncertainy and severity of COVID-19.

“Even the local parks are closed, Tweedsmuir Park is closed,” Webber added. “Even the question on BC Ferries’ opportunities to pass through I tell them BC Ferries only comes and goes once per week as they are running on winter schedule.”

An American who recently tried to enter the Bella Coola Valley decided to turn around, after Webber said he gave him the lowdown on what might happen if he came into the valley.

Read More: B.C. gets $2 billion in latest COVID-19 federal aid package

An exposure to COVID-19 would be devastating for the small remote community, Nuxalk leadership have said since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

As well as providing information to motorists, the EOC is also monitoring the community’s inlet traffic.

“They’re working 12 hours a day monitoring who comes into the wharf and comes into town,” Webber said noting Americans are trying to come up through the inlet.

He said while there are restrictions on commercial fisherman, they do not apply to recreational fishers.

“It’s costing the Nation a bit of money but the way I see it it’s worth the investment to keep everyone safe in the valley; even just keeping one American away is definitely worth it.”


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rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

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