Editor’s note: This is a public statement by Sylvia Forest, president of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG)
Hello friends, as of Tuesday March 24, the ACMG has recommended to its members to cease guiding operations until Canada’s Public Health Service has deemed the crisis due to the COVID-19 virus to be over. We believe that this is the responsible action given the potential repercussions of spreading the virus to members of the public and first responders, and thereby further taxing our health care systems.
We are very aware that recreating outside is critical to people’s physical and mental well-being. Finding the right balance during these uncertain times means choosing activities that are local to your place of residence, suitable for proper social distancing and low risk enough not to require outside assistance from first responders. We are also concerned about the spread of the virus to our beloved small mountain towns and popular climbing destinations. In these areas, medical facilities, first responders and SAR groups often have limited resources. Although our hospitals and first responders may not be overloaded yet, they need this time to plan, train and prepare for the anticipated rush.
Hosting large numbers of ‘out of town’ visitors may significantly expose residents to the transmission of the virus; or just as possible, will expose visitors to the virus that is already present in these small communities. With increased density of visitors, social distancing alone may not be enough to slow the rate of spread in these areas. We hope that taking these measures now will mean a speedier return to normal activities much sooner. Please look after yourselves, your friends and the community at large.