Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s offices in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House will remain open Monday to Friday for the time being. (Photo submitted)

Cariboo politicians to avoid community meetings, outings amidst coronavirus situation

All said precautions need to be taken due to the COVID-19 outbreak

Heeding the advice of the province’s health minister and provincial health officer, federal and provincial Cariboo politicians will be avoiding community meetings or outings until further notice.

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes each said precautions need to be taken due to the coronavirus situation.

“We are facing an unprecedented global health crisis,” Doherty said, noting following the suspension of Parliament until April 20, along with the cancellation of public gatherings, sporting events and university classes, he has closed his office to walk-in traffic and will not be attending public events.

“My staff will be available during regular hours — Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — to answer phones and assist with federal case files and programs. For the time being I will not be attending public events and will be doing most of my work through electronic or telephone communication.

READ MORE: Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak

“These are important precautionary measure that I believe are necessary to take.”

He said anyone with questions should feel free to contact his office at 250-564-7771 for assistance.

“I would strongly encourage you to heed all emergency advisories, follow the advice of Canada’s health officials and take the precautions necessary to stay healthy,” he said.

Barnett, however, said for now her offices in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House will remain open Monday to Friday, but has instructed staff to close the doors if they don’t feel comfortable.

“We have to take every precaution there is,” Barnett said. “It’s a very different time we’re living in with all these things that are happening but hopefully in the not too distant future it doesn’t escalate any more.”

She credited the work of the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who she said is doing “an amazing job.”

“She’s calm, she’s cool — every day she’s giving an update. This is an issue that has to be left with people who understand it like Dr. Henry and her crew.”

She also advised residents to take advantage of the 811 number (B.C.’s free health helpline) and to visit the COVID-19 website for up-to-date information.

“If anyone has concerns, call my office (250-305-3800). I have access to get answers,” she said.

Oakes, meanwhile, released a statement via Facebook Thursday advising constituents she will be taking preventative steps, as well.

READ MORE: UNBC announces last day of face-to-face classes will be March 18

“We’ve been out in the community and we can see the stress and concern,” she said. “Le’ts remember we are all in this together. Let’s remain calm, and listen to the medical professionals advice to reduce the potential impacts on our residents, families and friends.”

Oakes’ office also remains open during regular operating hours, however, said they wish for people to choose to call first before visiting at 250-991-0296, or e-mail ahead of time.

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