A staff member at Ucluelet’s Black Rock Resort has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the resort’s assistant general manager Lara Kemps. (Andrew Bailey photo)

A staff member at Ucluelet’s Black Rock Resort has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the resort’s assistant general manager Lara Kemps. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Ucluelet’s Black Rock Resort shuts down restaurant and spa after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Black Rock’s assistant general manager Lara Kemps says resort was informed on Nov. 18.

Ucluelet’s largest hotel has closed its restaurant, lounge and spa for the next two weeks after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

In a Facebook post Wednesday night, Nov. 18 at 8:30 p.m., the resort’s assistant general manager Lara Kemps wrote that the resort was informed of the positive test that day.

“It was a bit of a shock to hear the news and we are gathering as much information on the timeline of events; we are speaking directly with Island Health to enquire about any additional recommended next steps,” Kemps wrote. “The employee last worked, November 17th between the hours of 5pm and 8pm in our Currents restaurant at Blackrock and was wearing a mask and following all COVID protocols, the employee did not have obvious symptoms at the time and is now in quarantine.”

It is not clear when the staff member received a COVID-19 test or why they were tested if they were not experiencing symptoms.

Kemps said Island Health did not immediately advise the resort to close its food outlets and spa, but the resort chose to do so out of respect for its staff, guests and community. She added that contact tracing is underway and anyone considered to be at high-risk will be contacted by Island Health.

“Island Health has confirmed that the risk of exposure to guests or those not identified as a potential close contact is extremely low and there is not a need for a public exposure warning at this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, people should continue to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. If they feel sick, stay home and reach out for advice or testing,” Kemps wrote. “This decision is to support our staff to self-isolate, as deemed necessary by Public Health to help stop the spread…We Love our Community.”

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel told the Westerly News Thursday morning that he hopes the community handles the resort’s announcement “calmly and respectfully.”

“This is the first case that’s come in our community that we’re aware of and it’s in a high profile location,” he said. “Right now, it’s about remaining calm and respectful and realizing that this has an impact on all the residents and being reactionary and disrespectful is not the appropriate reaction. It’s about waking up this morning, like we all have, looking at your household, looking at your personal activities and making sure that we are taking appropriate actions that will lessen exposure to your own family as well as others.”

He added that he hopes the news reminds residents to follow provincial guidelines around frequent hand washing, social distancing, wearing a mask and limiting travel.

“This is, because it’s right at our doorstep here, a real reminder to the entire region that this threat for us is real and it’s active and it’s around,” he said. “That’s what I’m saying this morning as we wake up as a community and, as information provides itself and unfolds, we will navigate through this together collectively to ensure that we can get back to a little bit of normality and a bit of a sense of security for our community.”

Noel commended Black Rock for being proactive in alerting the community to the positive test.

“Being proactive is something that’s reflective about how Black Rock’s management wants to deal with that because they’re not just a resort, they’re part of our community, so I’m not surprised that they’ve decided to take the bold stance of going public and notifying the community of what’s transpired,” he said. “They’re doing what they need to do.”

He noted the West Coast is asking travellers from the mainland to cancel their trips for now and cited B.C. premier John Horgan’s recent request to all British Columbians to stop non-essential travel.

“This is a very, very, quickly moving subject and the goal posts are moving quite quickly,” he said. “It’s escalating and we need to be mindful of that…I can’t stress enough that we’re all responsible for our own actions.”

He reiterated that he hopes the community will remain “resilient, calm and respectful.”

“These aren’t lighthearted decisions that any business or the municipality or the province is trying to make. We know there’s going to be some real hard economic downfall,” he said.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is urged to self-isolate and contact 811 or the Island Health COVID-19 Testing Call Centre at 1-844-901-8442. More information can be found at HealthLinkBC’s website, www.healthlinkbc.ca.

The Westerly News has reached out to Kemps and will update this story as new information comes in.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: B.C. premier calls for national COVID-19 travel restrictions

READ MORE: Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

READ MORE: COVID-19: Ucluelet local frustrated by lax protocols as tourism reopens

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