A lot of people are avoiding the pandemic by getting out of the city and escaping to small vacation towns. In response, a B.C. mayor is making it clear that he doesn't want his town to be taken over by visitors, even visitors who own homes in the area. Al Miller, mayor of Invermere, B.C. is telling Albertans to keep out of the town during COVID-19. 

Miller took to the radio show Daybreak South with Chris Walker, which covers news in southern B.C., to beg Albertans to stay away during this time. 

He explained that a "large volume" of Albertans have second homes in Invermere and that several of them are fleeing to their second homes at this time. 

Miller understands why they're going there, saying it's a beautiful part of the country and that people often like to get away from the city. But he's still urging those Albertans to stay put in their main homes and keep away from the B.C. lake town. 

He cited the level of infrastructure and hospital capacity as one of the main reasons he's asking his neighbours to the east to stay away. 

"The health care side of things here is set up for the size of community we have here," he said.

He added that if the community experiences a real surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming days and weeks, then a lot of people in town won't get the care they need. 

Miller explained that Invermere doesn't have the hospital beds or ventilators to tend to patients that need to be hospitalized. "We got one ventilator in our hospital," he said. 

He stated, "We can't handle the extra people." 

The mayor said that he's been getting regular updates on his town's capacity as far as hospitalizations go, and they're currently in the midst of securing more rooms in the hospital. 

"They'd be on the floor and that's not cool," he said. 

According to the Columbia Valley Pioneer, two cases of COVID-19 have already been confirmed in Invermere. 

Miller said this is a hard thing for him to say, seeing how he's always been welcoming people to his "paradise" in the heart of Columbia Valley in southeastern B.C. 

Seeing as the town is so close to Alberta's border, many Albertans have made this town their vacation spot during the summers. 

The town counts on Alberta to help drive their economy, so it's a "big catch-22," he said.

People in Alberta reportedly have mixed feelings about being asked to stay away, especially if they're looking for a place in which they can self-isolate in peace. 

"This is their second home but this is our only home, and so we have to protect it," said Miller. 

Legally, the town itself has no authority to restrict Albertans from travelling there. The only way to enforce such a restriction would have to be the result of a measure taken by a "higher level of government." 

At this point, it's just about pushing strongly and "pleading" so Albertans adhere to this as soon as possible. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Miller said that he looks forward to welcoming folks back to town again, but for the moment, it's just best if they stay away out of precaution. 

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