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Why can't we have regional restrictions?

Jeffrey Robinson admits he's not an epidemiologist or public health expert.

Yet, the lawyer and president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce would like to see the Okanagan economy more open than Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

"Don't penalize places where COVID is more under control," said Robinson, a partner at Rush Ihas Hardwick.

"There are no more excuses not to have regional restrictions."

</who>There are no more excuses not to have regional restrictions, according to Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Jeffrey Robinson.

All of BC is currently under a five-week series of bans to take the province through to the end of the May long weekend.

There are travel restrictions, indoor dining at restaurants is banned, but patio dining is OK, and there's no adult group fitness classes at gyms.

The province has so far balked at the idea of regional restrictions such as stricter rules in COVID hotspots like Vancouver and the Fraser Valley and fewer limitations in the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Kootenays and the North, where there are fewer cases of the virus.

The province likes the blanket approach, while the Kelowna chamber and BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association don't.

"We have that conversation every time," said Ian Tostenson, president of the association.

"And every time we hear the province has no appetite whatsoever for regional restrictions."

Tostenson said restaurants have a very low transmission rate.

Yet, the government feels it should ban indoor dining provincewide and allow people only on restaurant patios or order take-out or delivery.

</who>The BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association has an appetite for regional restrictions, but the provincial government doesn't, says association president Ian Tostenson.

"Every day makes a difference," said Robinson.

"Even if Okanagan restaurants could open indoor dining a week or two early, that would make a difference."

While the Kelowna chamber might like to see things done differently, it is urging everyone to adhere to the new and extended pandemic restrictions so COVID transmission is curbed, businesses can stay open and reopen and we can all look forward to a more-open summer.

"Business is growing so tired of these restrictions," said Robinson.

"Government will have to provide more financial supports."

</who>Current public health orders mean indoor dining at all restaurants in the province is off the table until after the May long weekend. But restaurant patios are open.

Tostenson calls the current round of restrictions "another five long weeks" in a 14-month-long ordeal.

"It's good news we're so close with getting everyone vaccinated and we can look forward to a solid summer," he said.

"But we've already hit the point where we could lose 30% of our industry, mostly the small, independent restaurants who have simply run out of time and money."

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