VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province’s top doctor is not budging on restricting all drive-in events — including movie theatres — to 50 cars or less.
Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spent much of her Monday briefing explaining why we can’t just trust people to stay in their cars.
“We know that people don’t stay in their cars all the time when you’re at these events, and the more people we have the more chances we are that this virus can spread to a lot of other people. It also makes our job and finding people much more challenging,” she says.
She also clarified this limit does apply to Aldergrove’s Twilight theatre which up until Monday, has been able to accommodate up to 200 vehicles.
Meanwhile, Henry expects to provide new data next week on B.C.’s reopening period but doesn’t anticipate lifting the provincial order banning gatherings of 50 people or more.
Henry says large gatherings remain a concern, but that may change if numbers keep improving over the coming weeks.
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The Twilight Drive-In responded to the provincial update and say it does not agree with the order.
“We do not agree that we are an ‘event’ and these new restriction should not apply to pre-existing, on-going, permanent, brick and mortar licensed drive-in theatres in B.C. We note we have a valid ‘drive-in theatre’ business license from the Township of Langley, and not an ‘event’ license or permit,” a release reads.
During Phase 1 the drive-in and concession stands were able to operate while practicing physical distancing, “But now, in Phase 2, the restart phase, restrictions are being placed on us that will severely impede the viability of the drive-in. Seems contradictory and backwards to us!,” the release adds.
On Friday, Henry amended the order to include a limit of no more than 50 vehicles at drive-ins and other outdoor events, including the Twilight Drive-In Theatre in Aldergrove, which has remained open during the pandemic.
“It does apply to 50 vehicles. It applies to places like drive-ins,” she said Monday. “There were a number of events, we know, that were being planned. Some of them were going to be quite large. And this is what we need to do right now. This is not forever, but it is for this phase. We need to be consistent, and we’ve been using 50 as our number, and, as I’ve said before, there’s no real science behind it. But it is a rational approach that we want to be consistent across all of our venues when we’re talking about gatherings and events.”
Henry understands the restriction poses a problem for some businesses and suggested possibly by summer the order could be altered.
“Maybe we will be at a point, come the summer, we’ll be able to expand that. But I can’t predict that at this moment,” she added.
“For the next little while, we’re sticking with what we know about mass gatherings and about the risks that they present.”
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the purpose of the 50-person limit on gatherings has always been about physical distancing and limiting transmission of the virus.