B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonny Henry, announced May 26 that the province has officially banned overnight summer camp to mitigate potential outbreaks of COVID-19.
Summer camps for kids have also been banned in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, though, as in B.C., day camps are allowed.
The decision is a financial blow to thousands of summer camp operations across the west, which make virtually all of their income during the brief summer months.
“I know it’s a disappointment for many groups who are used to having that very important part of their summer,” Henry said during a briefing.
“There’s not a situation that we can see this summer where overnight camps for school-aged kids can be done in a way that would prevent transmission of this virus,” she said.
“I can say my colleagues across the country and in the U.S. as well, that’s the same case.”
Henry said the province is also concerned about many of these camps being in more remote areas where it can be a challenge to access health-care. There are also concerns from some communities that it could be children coming from many different areas and having effects on small communities.
Henry said physical distancing is particularly challenging for overnight camps and concerns remain over the number of young people who may arrive from outside B.C.
The decision comes as classes begin to reopen across the west for the final few weeks of school.
Henry said she understands trepidations some parents might feel about their children returning to schools but insisted the government would not have embarked on those plans if it didn’t think it was safe.
So far, 77 young people under the age of 19 have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C.