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B.C.'s top doctor defends shutting down banquet halls, promises clarity on order

Last Updated Sep 11, 2020 at 7:09 am PDT

(Courtesy Riverside Banquet Halls)
Summary

B.C.'s top doctor is promising more clarity, three days after ordering banquet halls to immediately shut down

Some venues have found themselves in a bit of a grey area, unsure if they are included in the order to close

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province is working out the details so everyone knows what's included in the order

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the B.C. Banquet Hall Association continues to cry foul after this week’s public health order that requires them to close indefinitely, the province’s top doctor is defending the move.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 transmission has continued at the venues, contributing to rising cases.

“We’ve had increasing and continuing exposure events that have led to more transmission, as well as second-generation transmission from people who were exposed to those who were at these parties and events,” she said during Thursday’s COVID-19 update after announcing a new daily record of 139 cases.

“We were seeing cases that were difficult to trace and that was one of the things that triggered us moving ahead with this.”

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Henry added they tried to work with the industry as well as nightclubs, which have also been ordered to close.

“But when you have a party and it goes late people want to have others there and they just bring people in, and it makes it very challenging for the owners and operators of the facilities to keep the environment safe,” Henry said.

The public health order shutting down banquet halls and nightclubs was announced by Henry on Tuesday. She also ordered liquor sales in all bars, pubs, and restaurants to cease at 10 p.m., with those venues expected to close at 11 p.m. unless they are providing full meal service.

While there has been confusion about what is considered a banquet hall and what is not, Henry said more clarity is on the way.

“It’s not for the most part small parties that are following the rules in places like hotels. It’s not small clubs that have some banquet rooms,” she added. “It really is to try and focus on the areas, the venues where we know there have been problems… we know there has been transmission.”

Related video: Concerns grow for B.C. banquet halls

The B.C. Banquet Hall Association has criticized the order shutting them down, claiming they have had no issues with COVID-19.

“Our concerns are how we’re being singled out, and how we’re being forced to shut down based on what [the province] assumes is something to do with COVID. — But we’ve had zero COVID issues recorded at our banquet halls,” President Sukh Mann told NEWS 1130 on Wednesday.

“People are calling, they don’t know what to do with their guests, or what they’re going to do with the food that’s already been prepared. It’s very hard. We’ve had to call people that have events booked for the future cancel. They’re calling asking ‘what do we do?’”

Owners and operators of banquet halls met on Wednesday to discuss next steps and forge a plan for surviving the pandemic.

Mann said they want to be able to reopen with 50 per cent capacity. If not, they want financial support from the province.