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PNE Fair returns this summer amid eased COVID-19 restrictions

Last Updated Jun 30, 2021 at 9:06 am PDT

FILE - PNE Fair (Courtesy PNE Playland via Twitter)

The PNE Fair will return in a smaller format this year, despite organizers saying the event would be cancelled

'Beloved' PNE elements will return in a smaller-scale Fair this summer

Changes to COVID-19 restrictions as of July 1 mean fairs, festivals, and trade shows will be allowed to take place

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The PNE Fair will be returning this summer, albeit in a smaller format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some of your favourite in-person activities.

This comes close to two months after it announced it would be cancelling its annual event due to the health crisis. However, with B.C.’s restart plan calling for fewer restrictions, including around crowd sizes in outdoor spaces, the PNE says it’s now able to make more plans.

“We’re calling it the Fair Fundamentals. It’ll run the traditional Fair dates of Aug. 21 to Sept. 6,” explained Laura Ballance, who speaks for the PNE, who added the event will be closed on Mondays, save for Labour Day.

“And it’ll feature all the most beloved elements of the traditional Fair. The Revel District, with the stage and performances there, things like the West Coast Lumberjack Show, we’re going to have a Comedy Corner. We’re going to of course have the President’s Choice SuperDogs, things like ToonCity.”

She says the Agricultural area, “one of the most important and beloved elements of the Fair,” will also be back.

COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed

“We’re very excited,” Ballance added, noting people should expect the Fair to be smaller than it traditionally is.

“We developed a plan that was based on the protocols that we believed would be in place. So we’re focusing it as an outdoor-centred Fair, so the only indoor space will be the livestock building.”

On Tuesday, the province announced that B.C. would enter the next stage of its four-part restart plan as planned on July 1. The easing of restrictions will see masks in indoor, public spaces go from “mandatory” to “recommended,” and also relaxes rules around gathering sizes, with outdoor, organized events of 5,000 people or up to 50 per cent capacity (whichever is greater) to be permitted.

“If your venue can hold up to 5,000 people, you can have 100 per cent capacity. Above 5,000 people, that capacity will be 50 per cent,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Changes mean fairs, festivals, and trade shows will also be allowed to take place, as long as they have safety precautions.

Day-of PNE tickets required for attendance

“We’ve done a number of things to ensure that people can feel comfortable. One of the key things is we will be selling tickets for specific dates,” Ballance explained.

Tickets will go on sale Friday, July 2 at 10 a.m. and will allow the PNE to control capacity levels.

It’s unclear at this time how many people the PNE will allow into its events each day. Ballance says a “significant portion” of the PNE and Hastings Park 110-acre site will be used to ensure there’s enough space for people to distance from others.

She notes capacity levels will align with what is permitted under the restart plan.

“It’ll be even smaller in attendance to what people would normally see on a quieter Fair day in past years, but we think this will add a unique experience to be able to enjoy the Fair in a distanced way,” Ballance told NEWS 1130.