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Indoors or outdoors? B.C. clarifies rules for gatherings under tents

Last Updated Jul 8, 2021 at 6:00 am PDT

Robyn Crawford, NEWS 1130 photo

Rules surrounding gathering in tents were quickly flagged by the event industry to B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer

After the event industry raised concerns, limits on gatherings in tents were amended

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s been a tough year for couples trying to plan a wedding in the B.C., with COVID-19-related guidelines surrounding gatherings continuing to change.

When the province announced phase 3 of B.C.’s restart plan, the event industry had to cope with another unexpected limitation. Outdoor gatherings under a tent would be classified as indoors, and subject to strict limits on capacity.

President and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, Ian Tostenson thinks it was simply just an oversight.

“When the health orders come out, or in this case health guidelines, there’s little nuances and this one popped up this week,” he says.

He says the rules surrounding tents were quickly flagged by the event industry to the Provincial Health Officer.

On Wednesday, the order was amended to say organized events under a tent with no siding would be classified as an outdoor organized event.

“I guess this was an error, there’s just so many things that have be reversed and changed and considered,” said Tostenson.

However, if your tent has siding walls, it will fall under the rules of an indoor organized event.

Under the current provincial health order, an outdoor, organized event can have a maximum of 5,000 people, or 50 per cent of the venue capacity, whichever is greater. An indoor organized event can have a maximum of 50 people, or 50 per cent of the venue capacity.

Then there’s the issue of dancing, there is no dancing allowed at indoor events.

Tostenson says it makes a big difference when you’re planning a wedding reception.

“Outdoors, you can dance outdoors, you have more flexibility with people outdoors, vs. indoors it’s quite bit more restricted.”

A spokesperson for BC’s Ministry of Health tells NEWS 1130, the amendment to the order was a clarification on the definition of tents to avoid confusion.