An unusually empty parking lot and skatepark at Creston & District Community Complex at 11:30 on Sunday is an indication that facility closures and social distancing recommendations are being heeded by most local residents. Lorne Eckersley photo

Pandemic leads to Creston closures

By Lorne Eckersley

Only a week after event cancellations and empty store shelves were the talk of the day, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are having many more local consequences.

“Ghost town.” It’s a phrase rarely heard in a community that has thrived in recent years. But the phrase is becoming a common one, alone with “social distancing,”, “hunkering down,” “things are changing from day to day,” “things are changing from hour to hour” and even “things are changing from minute to minute.”

Creston Town Hall? Closed. Creston Public Library? Closed. Lower Kootenay Band administrative offices and gymnasium, the Yellow House and fitness centre? All closed. Creston & District Community Complex? Closed except for a few youth programs. Creston Museum? Closed. RDCK offices? Closed. RCMP front desk? Closed. Creston Gleaners is closed, though the Food Bank continues to operate.

Creston Valley Blossom Festival president Jason Truscott announced on Friday that the Blossom Festival has been cancelled, but that some of the events, including Citizen of the Year announcements, could be held in conjunction with the 2020 Creston Valley Fall Fair.

After experiencing customers stockpiling large amounts of groceries, hand sanitizers and paper goods Pealow’s and Save-On-Foods have instituted limits on specified items at the request of the Town of Creston.

Many closures are voluntary while others are mandated by the Government of British Columbia or professional associations.

Dental offices are now closed, as are physiotherapy businesses. Beauty salons and spas have shut down, as have pubs and most restaurants, though some of the latter are now offering takeout and/or delivery service, including Jimmy’s Pub & Grill, Creston Golf Course’s Mallory Restaurant, Buffalo Trails, Ricky’s All-Day Grill, Memories of Indian Cuisine (which remains open with restricted hours and capacity), Silver Spoon and Silver Slice, Subway, Dairy Queen, A&W and Tim Hortons. Even Kootenay Pet Shop is offering curb-side pickup and delivery services.

Town of Creston staff have reorganized offices and created an Emergency Operations Centre.

“I am really impressed with how hard everyone has been working on this,” Mayor Ron Toyota said as he inspected the EOC last week. “We will likely be cancelling Council meetings so that staff can focus on other work that is very important, and the demands of which are changing very fast.”

Last week’s RDCK Board of Directors meeting was held via videoconference.

Dr. Nerine Kleinhans, who makes regular posts Facebook pages including Creston BC Community Chat Room – No politics and Creston Community Support, announced that as of 3 pm on March 21 there were 424 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in BC and that 10 deaths have resulted. Those numbers will have changed dramatically when this issue of the Advance is in readers’ hands. KIeinhans added:

The physicians of Creston are on the frontlines in the battle against Covid-19. This crisis is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetime. We are working hard to be there for our patients and their families.

Doctors and nurses cannot do this alone. What the public does now will impact the health of British Columbians the weeks and months ahead. Lives depend on your actions now.

Our province is in a state of emergency. Here is the directive from our Provincial Health Officer, Dr Bonnie Henry:

• Stay home unless absolutely necessary. This means no dinner parties. No shopping. No sports, even outside. Have coffee with a friend online

• Keep 2 metres or 6 feet away from everyone if you must go out. That’s about the width of a car or the length of two arms stretched out.

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Tell your loved ones to do the same.

This is especially important for young people. We sometimes see you out in the park or at the beach. You can get sick from this virus. More importantly, you can be carriers and cause a lot of harm to parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. If you want to go out, please do so with only your immediate family members.

The time is now. We can’t wait one more hour or one more day. Let’s save lives, together.

RCMP Staff Sergeant said last week that it is basically business as usual for his staff.

“The only change is that we have closed the front counter at the detachment for usual business to limit contact,” he said. “If the public wishes to speak to the police they can call our admin line at 250-428-9313 or 911 if it is an emergency.”

There is a telephone that connects to the local office beside the main door at the RCMP detachment.

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