Tents stretch for blocks on Pandora Street in downtown Victoria March 26, with handouts of food, clothing and needles continuing outside a drop-in centre that has been forced to close due to COVID-19 rules. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

The B.C. government says it has identified more than 900 spaces for people living on the street or in communal shelters who need to self-isolate due to exposure or symptoms of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Spaces have been secured at 23 sites including hotels, motels and community centres around B.C., the ministry of municipal affairs and housing announced April 7.

The assistance comes as Victoria and other communities struggle with the seasonal appearance of tent campers, made more pressing as drop-in centres and shelters are restricted or closed due to physical distancing orders from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The provincial effort comes as some hotel owners who have lost bookings have begun donating rooms for people who need to self-isolate, and for health care workers who are concerned about picking up the coronavirus and infecting family members.

RELATED: Hotels donate rooms for people who need to self-isolate

RELATED: B.C. clears more hospital beds as COVID-19 growth slows

Some hotels are reserved for people who have COVID-19 and need a place to self-isolate while they recover. “Other spaces are for patients being discharged from hospitals who do not have COVID-19 and who do not need emergency care, but still require ongoing health care, freeing up much-needed beds in hospitals,” the ministry said in a statement.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have directed B.C. hospitals to clear more than 4,000 acute-care beds, 40 per cent of total capacity, to brace for an expected peak in critical cases.

By region, there are four sites with 179 spaces in Fraser Health, including one site in Hope and three in Surrey, including 110 beds at the North Surrey Recreation Centre.

In the Interior Health region, there is one site with 20 spaces in Kelowna, two with 38 spaces in Nelson, two sites with 19 spaces in Penticton, two with 84 spaces in Vernon including the curling club, and two sites in Kamloops with 50 spaces.

Vancouver Island has two sites in Victoria with 160 spaces. Northern Health has one site in Prince George with seven spaces.

Vancouver Coastal has six sites with 367 spaces, including a site in Squamish with 15 spaces.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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