The B.C. Ministry of Environment has issued an open burning ban in and around Prince George until 9 a.m. on April 15, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ban was issued on Monday for all areas in the province designated High Smoke Sensitivity Zones, which includes Prince George, Quesnel and Houston, B.C. The ban applies to the open burning of wood, yard waste, etc., but doesn't include campfires.
"As cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C. continue to increase, the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends implementing measures that help to reduce excess air pollution in populated airsheds across the province," a ministry statement issued on Monday said. "There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function."
No new open fires may be started and no additional material can be added to existing fires, under the ruling.
"Evidence suggests that air pollution from combustion sources is most strongly associated with increased risk of viral infection, particularly vehicle emissions and biomass burning," the ministry statement said. "While the focus should remain on social distancing to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the number of cases, keeping our air as clean as possible will also help to protect the population during this difficult period."
The ministry will continue to monitor the situation and may modify the areas under burning restrictions.
A map showing the restricted areas can be viewed online at https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6d288bc667b24528a5c1e3b4c0373d07/.