The Light at the End of the Tunnel
After two long years of lockdowns, masks mandates, and vaccine passports, it finally looks as if British Columbia is approaching the finish line of this pandemic. The recent changes to public health measures and a further loosening of restrictions have brought relief and excitement to the many Canadians who have been patiently awaiting a return to normal. With some of the most stringent restrictions in the country, those living in British Columbia have endured countless limitations on their social freedoms. As the restaurant and tourist sectors have been amongst the industries hardest hit, many have been anxiously awaiting a full, province-wide reopening as we approach the spring and summer months of 2022.
The newest announcements from Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Ministry of Health mark the beginning of the end and gives hope for many looking to make the most out of the upcoming warmer months. Since March 11th, individuals are no longer required to wear masks within public indoor settings, and April 8th will mark the end of the province’s vaccine passport program. Thankfully, customers will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination when entering restaurants, shops, or other public gatherings. These changes to the province’s approach to the pandemic come alongside new changes to international entry requirements announced by the federal government. Starting April 1st, fully vaccinated travelers will be able to enter into Canada without a negative Covid-19 test result.
All of these adjustments represent a continued progress on the road to a fully re-opened British Columbia. Already, restaurants, gyms, and other public spaces have been allowed to run at full capacity since February 17th; a policy that has brought relief to countless struggling businesses. Every day, the prospect of a normal summer in British Columbia gets more promising; a warm welcome after two years of lockdown and isolation. With festivals, sports events, and restaurants, British Columbians are finding more and more ways to make the most of our renewed social freedoms.
Squamish is Ready
Having been one of the regions most affected by British Columbia’s Covid-19 restrictions, Squamish and the surrounding Sea to Sky corridor is ready to hit the ground running as more and more restrictions are abandoned. Most important is the resurgence of Squamish’s tourism and hospitality sectors that have faced so many challenges throughout the pandemic. Especially restaurants, who have faced limited capacities, take-out only policies, and even closures throughout the pandemic, are excited at the prospect of a further easing of public health restrictions. For many, the policing of masks and vaccination cards have created added labour and an increase in headaches for staff. But with no limits on capacities, an incoming end to the vaccine passport program and the elimination of mandatory mask regulations, restaurants owners in British Columbia can look forward to a renewed boost in traffic after the struggles of the last two years.
But its not only restaurants who are looking forward to a return to normal. Squamish has long been known for its thriving adventure tourism industry. Mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing are just a few of the many experiences that attract so many to Squamish’s wilderness. Both provincial and federal lockdown measures have seriously limited the number of adventure-seeking travellers able to take advantage of all that Squamish has to offer. For nearly two years, individuals from the United States and other parts of the world have been barred from entering the country.
Although, with loosening provincial regulations and a federal end to mandatory testing, those days are quickly moving far behind us. Many Squamish businesses are excited for the upcoming tourism boom as incoming travellers look to explore one of Canada’s most rewarding regions.
Must-See Places to Visit Under the New Guidelines
As Dr. Bonnie Henry continues to relax restrictions and reopen the province, now is the perfect time to take advantage of returning social freedoms by checking out some of British Columbia’s most rewarding experiences along the Sea to Sky highway.
Sea to Sky Gondola
There is no better way to experience the beauty of British Columbia than from the stunning views of the Sea to Sky Gondola. The impressive ten-minute traverse carries passengers up to 885 metres above sea level. At the top, the summit will reward with breath-taking panoramic views, striking wildlife trails, and first-class dining at the Summit Lodge. In recent weeks, the gondola welcomed the newest public health changes and made the decision to cast aside their mask mandate as soon as they were able to do so. There is no update yet as to whether or not they are planning to lift their vaccine requirements on April 8th, but their recent policy changes have shown that they are happy to remove restrictions as soon as possible. Also, to celebrate easing Covid-19 protocols, Sea to Sky is thrilled to announce the return of Sunday Socials. Every week, join friends and family for an unforgettable afternoon of live music, games, and drink specials!
Seeing as Squamish is a central point for many visiting Whistler, many travelers are excited for reduced restrictions and the opportunity to visit one of Canada’s most beautiful mountain communities without fear of restrictive Covid-19 policies. Following Dr. Bonnie Henry’s newest announcements, the municipality of Whistler has echoed a public desire to continue on the road toward normality. Stating that they will act in accordance with public health measures, Whistler has expressed a willingness to finally cast aside restrictions. Thus, throughout the mountain, stores, restaurants and hotels no longer require masks to be worn indoors and following April 8th visitors to the mountain will no longer need to provide proof of vaccination. We recommend a visit to Whistler’s Open Door Directory website for a comprehensive resource on how businesses are reacting to changing provincial requirements.
Fully Re-Opened Restaurants
Many Restaurants in Squamish have expressed increased frustrations as a result of the constantly changing policies meant to slow the spread of Covid-19. But with the changing rules, restaurants are excited to return to normal and offer an unimpeded dining experience for their patrons. Some restaurants like Whitespot, Match Eatery, and Watershed Grill, have all explicitly expressed a willingness to abide by the provincial public health requirements and are no longer requiring masks or proof of vaccination. While most other restaurants on the popular Cleveland Avenue strip have yet to announce specific re-opening plans, the future looks promising as the majority of restaurants have consistently looked toward getting back to business as usual. Squamish restaurant owners are excited to welcome back customers with open arms now that the province has finally decided to abandon these business-crippling limitations.
Squamish Farmer’s Market
Starting April 23rd, mingle with community members every Saturday during a visit to the Squamish Farmer’s Market. This year will be the market’s 19th year of operation and with over 60 vendors and a stunning granite backdrop of the towering Squamish Chief, this is the perfect opportunity to get outside and involved with one of the friendliest communities in British Columbia. However, despite the new changes to the province’s public health policy, the Farmer’s market is still asking that customers remain masked and socially distanced while shopping.
As we in the province slowly emerge from this pandemic, many are looking forward to new ways to get together with friends and family. Fortunately, some big events are being planned over the upcoming months, providing a great opportunity to get out of the house and overcome those ever-present feelings of isolation and pessimism that have plagued so may over the last two years.
Crankworkx (August 5- August 14)
Due to Covid restrictions and the province’s public health measures, many were disappointed to learn that the Whistler Mountain Biking Festival was cancelled in 2021. However, with the recent announcements, organizers have announced that they’re moving full steam ahead with this year’s festival. Known as one of the biggest mountain biking events in the world, Whistler’s Crankworx brings together the best athletes to compete in a variety of elite-level competitions.
Squamish Constellation Festival (July 22-24)
For many, the effects of Covid-19 have been most felt with the absence of live music events. Everyone has been patiently waiting for the time when we can rejoin a crowd of fellow music-lovers and let loose to the rhythm of heart-pounding speakers. Well, the time has come, live music is finally returning, and the three-day Squamish Constellation Festival is a can´t-miss event for those looking to quench that live music thirst. Featuring two stages of non-stop music and over 60 acts lined up, this incredible festival will be one to remember.
Squamish Beer Festival (June 25)
Join over 2000 beer lovers and 55 craft breweries to experience a summertime gathering like no other. Located in the heart of Squamish, this popular event has often been recognized as one of the best festivals in the Sea to Sky corridor. With food trucks, games, axe throwing, and the best craft beer that British Columbia has to offer, the 6th annual Squamish Beer Festival is guaranteed to be a fun way to spend a hot Squamish day.
Squamish Days Loggers Sports Parade (July 28-31)
After two years of cancellations and shortened programs, the infamous Squamish Days Loggers Sports Parade is back for its 65th year this summer. In the years since 1957, what started as a small group of loggers getting together for some friendly competition, has exploded into an action-packed weekend full of logging events, games, and showcases. Experience the rich tradition of Squamish’s extensive logging heritage with events like chainsaw carving competitions, a world-class logger’s sports show, and the concluding Squamish Days parade.
What Are You Waiting For?
The stormy days of the Covid-19 pandemic are finally clearing as lockdowns, mask-wearing, vaccine requirements, and restricted international travel will soon be a distant memory. More than anyone, the people of Squamish and those along the Sea to Sky Highway are ready to reclaim their lives and resume daily life as normal. With exciting events, popular restaurants, and memorable attractions, Squamish is poised to be a hotspot for travellers looking to get outside and explore all that British Columbia has to offer.