The two Olympic champions Alexandre Bilodeau and Jean-Luc Brassard assured, late Saturday evening, that they had respected all health protocols the day after the publication of a photo of them without a mask in a restaurant in Rossland, British Columbia.
Reacting to the controversy on his Facebook page, Alexandre Bilodeau admitted that he had indeed gone on a ski trip with Jean-Luc Brassard and two of his friends in the Okanagan Valley. The athlete said all four had been tested for COVID-19 before their departure and remained together, forming the equivalent of a family bubble.
The group of skiers also intends to take a screening test again before returning to Quebec, in order to avoid bringing the virus back in their luggage. “None of us has ever paid more attention to the rules and respect for others than during this trip,” assured Mr. Bilodeau.
Last Friday, the skiers were approached by a friend living in Rossland, who happened to be the organizer of a World Cup held in Quebec and won by Jean-Luc Brassard some thirty years ago.
The man was asked to walk away by the restaurant manager to respect social distancing, but the latter still took the time to strike a pose with the Quebecers. This cliché found its way onto social media, drawing the attention of local residents and the Global News channel.
Solicited by the media, the mayor of Rossland, Kathy Moore, judged that the cliché sends the wrong message in these times of pandemic.
“In this photograph, there are people who are outside their province and they are visitors to our community, with a resident. They are friends and are sitting in a restaurant without their masks, ”she described, reminding people that people should sit down with their family bubble and that interprovincial travel is discouraged.
She added, still in an interview with Global News, that her community was hoping for the return of tourists, “but it is not yet the time”.
“I’m sure people in British Columbia, when they see this or other similar incidents … it can frustrate those who play by the rules,” added BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix.