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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the north are putting everything in a tough spot, and he’s been hearing murmurs about the return of more restrictions in the Peace region.

While nothing is planned or confirmed, the situation is getting to the point where governments are pressured to make tough decisions, says Bernier.

“Obviously, the last thing I want to see is more restrictions. I mean, our businesses are hurting already, and they have been for almost 18 months,” said Bernier, who fell ill with COVID-19 in May. “This has been really tough on our workers and employers.”

While Health Minister Adrian Dix steered away from the subject when appearing on Moose Talks on Friday, Bernier says the topic of more restrictions is still just a rumour.

“To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t heard anything concrete from Minister Dix or from Dr. Henry that they are looking at further restrictions.”

Bernier says he is taking calls from residents who are looking at the numbers and the facts.

“I continually get calls to my office, surprisingly, asking for tougher restrictions. People are worried about our COVID-19 numbers, saying we should lockdown again. Then, of course, I get people who are completely against everything that’s going on, so it’s interesting in our area right now. It’s very polarized.”

When the province entered its circuit breaker, Bernier says circumstances were very different.

“The virus is changing, it’s morphing, it’s starting to go after younger, healthy people. When we look at the circuit breaker last time, it was under completely different circumstances than we’re facing now.”

Bernier says, with the steep increase in cases, including serious ones requiring intensive care, the province’s healthcare system is unable to manage both the COVID-19 patients and the regularly occurring instances where injuries or illnesses require medical attention.

“Anyone in our region learns very quickly that we do not have not only the staff resources, but we don’t have the infrastructure in place to support a lot of people who come down with severe cases of COVID-19 that require respiratory or acute care. If we have a catastrophic event, a big car crash, somebody has a heart attack, those people are now having to wait longer because there’s no capacity while we’re trying to help people suffering from COVID-19.”

Bernier echoed the words of Dix when he said this is not about discriminating healthcare or wishing ill on anybody, regardless of their choices.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the health and wellbeing of people. The last thing we want is anybody getting sick. If somebody does get sick, it shouldn’t be around whether they chose not to have the vaccine, it’s about somebody who’s sick and requires care. But if people can make the choice and get vaccinated to try to reduce their chances of getting sick, that’s beneficial to them and to the system.”

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