The province says while travel restrictions imposed on Powell River are hard, they’re a necessary part of the efforts to bend the COVID-19 curve.

BC’s health ministry is responding to concerns raised from Mayor Dave Formosa, who says limiting ferry trips to Vancouver Island to essential travel only, is unfair.

Powell River is part of Vancouver Coastal Health which for the next two weeks is under a number of restrictions, including strongly discouraging any travel outside of the region.

That’s because Vancouver Coastal Health has had 618 confirmed COVID-19 cases since Monday, an average of more than 150 a day.

The Ministry of Health told Vista Radio that while there is no order in B.C. restricting travel, “the virus travels with people and the more people travel and interact with others, the more likely it is to spread.”

“This is about protecting ourselves and others,” the ministry said.

“The Central Coast and Bella Coola Valley are being excluded because geographically they are quite different, in terms of where people travel back and forth and their interactions with health care services. They are more closely aligned to some of the lower-risk areas in the province right now, such as Interior Health.”

The ministry said that based on travel and health care access, the Powell River and the Sunshine Coast regions are included in provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s “essential travel only” recommendation.

“We know this is hard, but it’s only for two weeks and by limiting our social interactions now, we can bend the curve, protect our communities and our health care system.”

However, Formosa believes Powell River has a handle on the COVID-19 situation and says restricting travel to the island is unfair.

“Our citizens can travel to Vancouver for whatever, but we can’t travel to the island,” he said. “That’s the biggest complaint I’m hearing. Why is it that we can’t have access to Vancouver Island which has far fewer issues with COVID, and Vancouver has far more issues with COVID.”

Formosa said it’s a two-ferry ride to Vancouver yet they can’t get on the one ferry trip to Comox.

The restrictions end on Nov. 23rd.