No recent fatalities but more increased restrictions
By Tania Arora, Staff Writer
An increase in COVID-19 cases made the Vancouver Health Authorities (VHA) shut down the nightclubs and banquet halls once again. The announcement was made on September 8 by Dr. Bonnie Henry in order to constrain the rise in the number of COVID cases over the long weekend. The order was in effect immediately.
In part of the announcement, Henry also said liquor sales at bars and restaurants have to stop at 10 pm and the entire operation at 11 pm. However, exceptions have been made to the restaurants serving full meals—they can stay open past 11 pm but aren’t allowed to serve alcohol after 10 pm. In addition, the music at bars and restaurants must not exceed the volume of regular conversation.
The order came in effect when a number of reports detailed that exposures happened at public places. While cases have been increasing, there have only been two deaths (both in long-term care homes) since September 4; Henry announced that additional safety measures had to be enforced again. “These venues are still a significant risk to people in British Columbia,” said Henry. “Issuing orders is not something that we do lightly, it is our last resort,” she said.
The move will impact more businesses and may lead to more permanent closures. Statistics Canada reports between March and May during the height of the pandemic, more than 20,000 businesses closed, with many more predicted to close. According to Global News, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licenses, Jeff Guignard, says around half the bars, pubs, and restaurants in Vancouver are not making enough money or “barely squeaking through.” He also says this new measure could drive people to go elsewhere, instead of stopping them from going out altogether. “People are not going to stop hanging out past 10 pm. They’re just not going to do it.”
In an article by CBC, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Bridgitte Anderson says tourism, accommodation, retail, and the food industry are said to be the industries hit the hardest by the pandemic, noting that business numbers show “the real devastation.” Realizing the need for more support, Anderson continued, “It’s imperative that the government doesn’t just look at what they can do short-term, immediately, but also, how we’re going to be able to transform our region long-term.”