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B.C. orders nightclubs, banquet halls to close as COVID-19 cases continue to surge

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Sep 8, 2020 at 8:47 pm PDT

Summary

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has ordered all nightclubs and standalone banquet halls to close

429 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths were reported over the long weekend

Liquor sales in all bars, pubs, and restaurants areto cease at 10 p.m.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has ordered all nightclubs and standalone banquet halls to close effective Tuesday and until further notice after 429 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths were reported over the long weekend.

She also ordered liquor sales in all bars, pubs, and restaurants to cease at 10 p.m., while those venues must close at 11 p.m. unless they are providing full meal service.

Music and background sounds must not be louder than the volume of normal conversation in those venues.

“So these restrictions are meant to take away that late-night temptation that people have, where we know that there’s been mixing going on and where transmission is happening in these venues across the province. We recognize that these venues have tried and we’ve made adjustments, and there are still exposures happening. And both staff and customers are being put at risk. So that is the reason we are putting in these additional restrictions today,” Henry said.

“In many cases what we are seeing is large numbers of people being exposed inadvertently in those environments, particularly in some of the nightclubs and the bars, and the parties that we’ve seen in many cases, fueled by our use of alcohol.”

Henry said issuing orders is a last resort.

“We have spent quite a lot of time working with industry within the banquet halls in the nightclubs, to try and put in measures that will protect people from this,” she added. “But as our cases are climbing, as we are starting to move into the important parts of our community that we need to support moving into respiratory season in the fall, we need to make some changes to reduce the risks of these environments.”

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Henry said restaurants and pubs have generally done well following health and safety orders, although two West End restaurants have been ordered closed after repeated health and safety violations, mostly pertaining to ignoring physical distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other exposure events continue, as well.

On the weekend, Vancouver Coastal Health issued exposure warnings for three bars or nightclubs along Granville Street.

Meanwhile, the BCCDC has updated its list of possible COVID-19 exposure on flights, with more travelling through the Lower Mainland.


Of the new cases, 123 were reported from Friday to Saturday. Another 116 were reported during the next 24-hour period, followed by days of 107 and 83 cases, respectively.

Friday’s total is the second highest single-day total of new cases since the start of the pandemic. The record is 124.

Henry also reported outbreaks at Burnaby Hospital, Holy Family Hospital in Vancouver, and the Rideau Retirement Residence in Burnaby.

“We have no new community outbreaks to declare. However, I think people are well aware that there have been a number of exposure events over the weekend in many places around British Columbia, but particularly in the Lower Mainland,” she said.

“For many people, it is the time for all of us to cut back on our social interactions. This is what we all need to do now to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19, for ourselves and for everyone around us.”

She added the new orders, after careful consideration, were necessary to assist public health teams, with contract tracing in particular.

“We had a bit of a grace period in the summer. We were able to manage the cases, we were able to do the work of public health, and allow people to have the time to get out, to be with others, to be with family, to travel a bit,” said Henry.

But more action is needed as schools reopen and more people return to work and fall approaches, although a curfew was not considered.

“It’s going to be a challenging time for those businesses, and I think we need to all start thinking rethinking about what we need to do to get us through the next few months, as a community, together.”

B.C. has now recorded 6,591 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Of 1,386 active cases, 32 people are in hospital, including 12 in intensive care.

B.C. has recorded 213 deaths overall. The two from the weekend happened in long-term care in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal regions.

-with files from Nikitha Martins, Toby Kerr and Ash Kelly