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A travel ban related to the bushfires Hotels or campgrounds in many communities in the southern Interior will be up at midnight, according to the British Columbia Minister of Emergency Management.
The order went into effect Saturday and restricted travel for the purpose of staying in temporary accommodations to Kelowna and West Kelowna, Kamloops, Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton and Vernon.
It was designed to make room for the thousands of evacuees ordered to leave their homes due to the hundreds of wildfires burning across the province, as well as first responders and support staff.
However, non-essential travel to West Kelowna remains prohibited and people are urged to stay away from the Lake Country and Shuswap areas.
At a news conference on Wednesday, part of an official tour of areas devastated by the wildfires, British Columbia’s Minister for Emergency Management Bowinn Ma said the order had had the intended effect of freeing up hotel rooms for those who needed them most.
“[We are] I am very grateful for the support of the tourism sector for their compassion and understanding,” she said. “We know that these types of travel orders have an effect on their work and their livelihoods.”
Ma said the province will continue to place evacuees in the accommodations that are now available, working with local governments and First Nations.
He said anyone planning to travel to British Columbia should avoid fire-affected communities and abide by evacuation orders and alerts.
“Check DriveBC before you go, have an emergency kit, and let compassion and common sense guide you.”
The rescission of the order comes as tour operators say their business has taken a nosedive, even in communities where travel restrictions did not apply.
At the same news conference, BC Premier David Eby said the province was beginning to look towards rebuilding and recovery, with “heroic” efforts by firefighters helping to put out aggressive fires.
“The work, the discussions, the efforts and the partnership with the federal government, with First Nations and others on recovery has already begun,” he said.
Ma said the West Kelowna travel ban will remain in effect until September 4, but could be lifted sooner if conditions permit.