FILE - Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop is pictured in a COVID-19 update video on Thursday, May 28, 2020. On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the Council of the Haida Nation released next steps in Haida Gwaii’s COVID-19 response. (YouTube screengrab)

‘Good news:’ Council of the Haida Nation releases guidelines for expanding social circles

Next steps also say outdoor spaces such as parks, playgrounds, trails may be reopening for day use

The Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) released next steps in Haida Gwaii’s COVID-19 response on Tuesday.

The next steps include guidelines to start expanding social circles, and safely use local parks, playgrounds, trails and other outdoor spaces that may be at least partially reopening.

In a video update on June 2 after the guidelines were released, Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop said the next steps were “good news.”

“Thanks to our hard work here in the northern region as well as all of B.C., things have continued to trend in the right direction,” Alsop said, adding that the CHN has been closely monitoring the roll-out of the Restart B.C. plan.

“After many discussions and consultations with communities and medical professionals, we’re ready to move into our next step.”

ALSO READ: ‘A time of transition:’ CHN looking to release next steps of pandemic response this week

Though the CHN still cautioned residents to always err on the side of caution and follow advice from local health-care practitioners, Alsop confirmed one of the next steps was expanding social circles.

“You’ll all be happy to know that our stay home orders are being lifted and shifting to staying local and keeping small circles,” he said. “It is now OK to expand your social circles to small circles that include close friends and family, but of course we recommend you do this with caution and careful consideration.”

In the guidelines, residents were reminded to continue to respect physical distancing by keeping at least 6 feet away from people who are not from their household, especially when indoors, and always practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly and often, with soap and water for 30 seconds.

“When expanding your social circle, consider the interactions each person within your circle has had and remember how easily the COVID-19 virus can spread,” the guidelines said. “Only increase social interactions after fully considering the risks to you, your family, friends and community.

“If you are vulnerable to the health impacts of COVID-19, continue with caution and carefully consider if and how you will expand your circle.”

ALSO READ: Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

According to the guidelines, local parks, playgrounds, trails and other outdoor spaces may be reopening for day use.

“You are responsible for maintaining physical distancing and sanitizing any surfaces (for example, at the playground),” the guidelines said. “Use at your own risk and check with your local authority or [Emergency Operations Centre] for more information.”

At the time of publication, the Naikoon and Pure Lake provincial parks remained fully closed according to the BC Parks website, and Gwaii Haanas had previously announced it would remain closed until at least June 30.

In his video update, Alsop said each community would be able to determine what is safe and appropriate when it comes to reopening.

ALSO READ: Some restaurants on Haida Gwaii hosting dine-in guests again

The guidelines also said self-isolation after medical travel is now only required if returning from a “high-risk facility.”

However, residents traveling from anywhere outside of the Northern Health region were still asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the island.

Non-resident and all leisure travel to Haida Gwaii was still not permitted by the CHN, and essential workers coming to Haida Gwaii were still being required to apply through the CHN with a Safe Work Procedure and Safe Community Plan.

More to come.

ALSO READ: Gwaii Haanas will remain closed until at least June 30

ALSO READ: Provincial parks on Haida Gwaii remain closed, as others around B.C. open to day use

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