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‘A step backwards’: Popove hopes for rise in vaccinations amid new Fraser Valley restrictions

‘It’s disappointing that we’re at this point, but the numbers tell the tale,’ says Chilliwack mayor
Mayor Ken Popove is pictured during a March 17, 2020 council meeting. “We were chugging along pretty good and it’s disappointing that we’re at this point, but the numbers tell the tale,” said Mayor Ken Popove on Sept. 28, 2021 about the new COVID restrictions. (City of Chilliwack file)

The mayor of Chilliwack wasn’t pleased when he found out new COVID restrictions were being implemented in the Eastern Fraser Valley, but it was the right decision, he said.

“I’m not happy. It’s a step backwards,” Mayor Ken Popove told The Progress Tuesday. “We were chugging along pretty good and it’s disappointing that we’re at this point, but the numbers tell the tale. Now we’re back at Stage 2.”

On Sept. 28, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry imposed a series of new restrictions on unvaccinated individuals attending both social and organized gatherings in Abbotsford, Agassiz, Harrison, Hope, Chilliwack and Mission.

Henry said these rules come because unvaccinated COVID patients are putting strains on local hospitals, including a recent outbreak at Chilliwack General Hospital. The outbreak was declared on Aug. 30 and ended on Sept. 24.

READ MORE: COVID outbreak over at Chilliwack General Hospital

Popove was on a call with Henry, Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee and Health Minister Adrian Dix to discuss the decision before it was made public.

“As much as I don’t like to go backwards, I don’t think we have any choice but to do this,” Popove said.

In order for the restrictions to be lifted, vaccination rates must increase, he added.

Chilliwack’s vaccination rate is around 73 per cent, which is above that of Hope (66 per cent) but below Abbotsford (75 per cent).

Fraser Health now has strategies in place for more pop-up clinics to make it easier for people to get their first or second shot, he added.

READ MORE: New COVID restrictions imposed on eastern Fraser Valley to encourage vaccination

The new COVID restrictions include:

Indoor social gatherings will be limited to five additional people, or one additional household. Outdoor social gatherings will be limited to 10 unless all are fully vaccinated.

Indoor organized events are limited to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors unless everyone is vaccinated.

Indoor ticketed events (including movies and sporting events) indoor fitness facilities and indoor adults sports must require everyone to be fully vaccinated, not partially so like in the rest of B.C., in order to attend.

Outdoor adult sports will be limited to 50 participants unless everyone is fully vaccinated.

– with files from Katya Slepian


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Jenna Hauck

About the Author: Jenna Hauck

I started my career at The Chilliwack Progress in 2000 as a photojournalist.
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