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PNE employing fewer staff due to coronavirus impacts

Last Updated Jul 12, 2020 at 9:30 pm PST

FILE: The Pacific National Exhibit expects to lose $52-million this year because of COVID-19 cancellations. (Courtesy Facebook/PNE.Playland)

The PNE has hired significantly less people than it normally does during the summer months

PNE CEO says at the height of the summer they usually have about 4,300 people on staff

Playland at the PNE reopened this weekend but with limited attractions because of COVID-19

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — One of the most popular summer attractions and largest employers in Vancouver is not hiring nearly as many people as it usually does this year.

The PNE opened Playland this weekend through a phased-in approach, but because of COVID-19, it has limited attractions and shorter hours.

RELATED ARTICLE: Playland reopening July 10, drive-thru fair to run late August

While opening Playland is a step in the right direction, PNE CEO Shelley Frost says it’s hard being unable to bring on as many people as they usually do.

“At the height of our summer we’re at about 4,300 people. Opening Playland, even in a smaller capacity and in a phased zoned way, will allow us to bring back a couple of hundred people,” she tells NEWS 1130. “It won’t allow us to bring back thousands of people.”

Frost says while the situation is not perfect, it’s still a step towards “a normal operation.”

Playland alone usually accounts for at least 500 jobs.

Currently, the amusement park is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, although Frost says they are eyeing an expansion of operating days and hours closer to August.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that B.C.’s unemployment rate was at 13 per cent in June, significantly higher than January’s rate of 4.5 per cent.

– With files from Tim James and Hana Mae Nassar