FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce met with representatives from Northern Health on Monday to discuss the four main challenges facing the Fort St. John region.

According to a release, one challenge is the confusion about current Northern Health orders, which exclude the Northeast from the recently eased gathering restrictions for the rest of B.C.

“The north is still compliant to the gathering restriction implemented with the October 14th orders. PHO comparison report was provided to identify orders that have been made public that does NOT include Northern Health,” reads the release.

Another issue raised by the chamber is the lack of availability and access to vaccination clinics, specifically around the marketing and convenience of clinics.

“Northern Health is working on filling both of those gaps to ensure everyone has opportunity and availability to get vaccinated.”

The chamber says enforcement action teams continue to reach out to non-compliant businesses and issue appropriate action for compliance related to the Provincial Health Order. Businesses that have violations and the status of compliance have been made public.

The last issue raised by the meeting with Northern Health and the Chamber of Commerce is around the slow turnaround times for COVID-19 testing as Northern Health deals with the latest surge in cases.

“This turnaround is impacting labour shortages on already strapped businesses to have enough staff. Testing equipment to the north is becoming more available and should decrease the results turnaround times.”

All lab work is now being done regionally, which health officials say will improve service and turnaround times.

“The Chamber continues to educate and advocate on behalf of our businesses to ensure they have the most up-to-date information available. We will provide vaccine clinic schedules on our news media and continue to update our businesses about the most current PHOs affecting the Fort St. John region,” reads the release.

Businesses that are unsure about which orders affect them directly are encouraged to contact the Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce.