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Vancouver bans dining-in at restaurants, defers property tax payments because of coronavirus

Last Updated Mar 20, 2020 at 1:43 pm PDT

(Riley Phillips for NEWS 1130)

Dine-in service at Vancouver restaurants is banned as of midnight Saturday to slow spread of COVID-19

Property tax payments will be deferred for 60 days

The mayor of Vancouver is urging everyone to take the outbreak seriously and stay home

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Vancouver is banning all dine-in service at restaurants and bars as of midnight Saturday.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart made the announcement Friday, a day after he officially declared the city is under a local state of emergency. 

“The latest numbers continue to demonstrate that despite the extraordinary efforts of federal, provincial, and local governments, we are one of the hardest hit regions in the country,” Stewart said.

He acknowledged the ban could bring hardship to businesses and employees, but said it needed to happen.

“We felt we needed to act sooner, rather than later,” he said, noting other cities have made similar decisions.

Food takeout and delivery are still allowed for the time being. City Manager Sadhu Johnston explained too many Vancouver restaurants and other businesses are failing to comply with social-distancing orders, prompting the ban. He said any restaurants or bars that remain open after 12:01 a.m. Saturday will be “subject to enforcement.”

As for other retailers who are still open, Stewart said it is time to limit the spread of the virus.

“If we continue so see non-essential retailers and service providers ignoring our new reality, we will not hesitate to take further action.”

In addition, property tax payment payments will be deferred for 60 days as a response to the economic impact of the virus. Stewart said he has reached out to the province asking for a ban on evictions, and he is seeking extra support from the federal government.

A dedicated COVID-19 task force has also been established, led by Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid.

“Our teams have been doing phenomenal work to combat COVID-19 and protect the people of the City of Vancouver,” Johnston says in a release. “These extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Under Chief Reid’s leadership, the COVID-19 task force will coordinate all aspects of COVID-19 mitigation, response and recovery for the City of Vancouver. This gives us the capability to respond as rapidly as possible to this evolving situation.”

Johnston added services will continue to be evaluated with a focus on maintaining those that are essential and scaling back ones deemed non-essential.

Stewart urged people to take the outbreak and rules seriously, and “stay home, stay away from others, and stay safe.”