Operation Red Nose will run in Kamloops with fully vaccinated drivers and passengers

·3 min read

If you want a safe ride home this holiday season, you’ll need to be double vaccinated against COVID-19.

That’s the policy of Operation Red Nose, the squad of volunteer drivers that get people and their vehicles home safe during Christmas party season, while raising money for athlete development in the region.

Operation Red Nose is making a return in 2021, with protocols in place, after being parked in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, all volunteer drivers and people accessing the service must have both COVID-19 shots to participate.

Program co-ordinator Elsa Poppleton told KTW the vaccination status of volunteers will be checked at headquarters and drivers, in turn, will be instructed to check the vaccine status of passengers they pick up.

“That’s a strict protocol we implemented to ensure we could be back fully this year,” Poppleton said.

Anyone who calls for a ride who isn’t double vaccinated will not be given a lift home.

Dispatchers will ask the caller ahead of time if everyone entering the vehicle is double vaccinated. Hopefully, Poppleton said, everyone will be truthful.

“If we do arrive to the house or party, you will be required to show the double vaccination and, if you don’t have it, then we’ll be calling a cab or giving you an alternate way to get home safely,” Poppleton said.

Both drivers and passengers will be required to wear masks in the vehicle and cleaning guidelines will be in place.

“The dashboard and steering wheel will be sanitized every ride,” Poppleton said.

No passengers will be allowed to ride shotgun and keeping the windows cracked open will be recommended for improved ventilation.

The service is available by donation and all funds raised will go to PacificSport Interior BC, which helps amateur athletes in the area.

PacificSport Interior BC is hosting the Kamloops campaign — its 25th instalment.

Operation Red Nose will run from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. over 13 nights: Nov. 26 and 27 and Dec. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 30 and 31.

While some cities are opting for just an awareness campaign this year — as was the case for Kamloops in 2020 — Poppleton said local Red Nose organizers feel they have the protocols in place to enable a safe return of the program.

There is demand for the service in Kamloops. In 2019, Operation Red Nose provided more than 1,200 rides in the city, the most in B.C. and 16th-most across the country.

That year, the program had 235 volunteers, but this year it hopes to recruit 250 people for positions such as designated drivers, escort drivers, navigators, phone operators and dispatchers.

To volunteer, visit the PacificSport Interior BC website or attend the Tournament Capital Centre, Kamloops Sports Council or Volunteer Kamloops to fill out a form.

For more information, call 250-320-0650 or email kamloops@operationrednose.com.

Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week

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