Closing mass gatherings is one thing—extending it to cars at a drive-in is unscientific
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
Last month I went to the Twilight Drive-In Theatre in Langley for the first time in years. I hadn’t gone recently because it’s so far out in the suburbs and I am often busy, but in this COVID-19 world where entertainment and fun is hard to find— especially at night—the drive-in has become a light in the darkness. I have wanted to go back again, even more so now that they are running classic movies like Jurassic Park and Jaws, but I have been unable to get a ticket due to every show being sold out almost immediately when the tickets become available. Any future trips to the drive-in, or any drive-in-like event in BC has likely been crushed by Chief Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. On Sunday, she stated the change that dictates that there will be no mass gatherings of 50 people or more has been modified to include that there will be no more than 50 cars at events.
On the night when I went to the drive-in, I found the crowd to be very respectful of social distancing. They were spread out with only one car per two car spots, people were staying in close proximity to their vehicles, and when I went to get popcorn, the concession area was completely empty. Considering how I have felt going into grocery stores and walking through my local park, I felt safer at the drive-in than in most places I have been since the pandemic started. Now, I’ll admit that I have not been supportive of the practically hero worship level of love Dr. Henry has received during this pandemic, but I have mostly agreed with her decisions on restricting the spread of the coronavirus. Only allowing 50 cars for a venue like this is a bridge too far though.
Dr. Henry has even admitted that “there is no science to this,” a comment referring to the exact number of 50 people (or vehicles) as the choice for the limit. The amount of people in those cars is not factored in, and there seem to be so many exceptions to this ordinance. One example is the mini-doughnut drive-thru at the PNE fairgrounds, which saw hundreds of cars bumper to bumper to pick up doughnuts from one location. I’m sure vehicles with more than one person didn’t stay in their cars through that whole thing, and they also can’t be sure that the contactless delivery service model they had could avoid transmission of the virus. Also, nobody needs PNE mini doughnuts in order to live, so why is this event okay while a similar event like the drive-in is viewed as a petri dish for disease? There was no inciting incident to show that the groups that go to drive-ins are unmanageable, and overall BC is doing a good job at flattening the curve with new cases coming in the single digits many days—so why can’t we have our reasonable fun?
Some may look at this and say “chill out, it’s a drive-in, who cares,” and looking at tweets from people like Global News correspondent Keith Baldrey invalidating these concerns, clearly some think that this issue is little more than a petty trifle—but I disagree. For one, more drive-in like events were looking to get established at the PNE fairgrounds and other places. Now it appears that it is not going to happen because there is no way they can make money off just 50 cars with no combined food sales. Also, I think there are far more risks at parks and forest trails than there are at drive-in events, but Dr. Henry’s not similarly pounding the table to close all parks and trails.
We are living in a modern day Footloose. Here is something that is taking the doldrums out of this pandemic, and is giving people a reason to have fun—especially at night when options are incredibly limited. And here comes Rev. Shaw Moore, aka Dr. Bonnie Henry, (metaphorically) saying “people having fun… we can’t have that” and shutting down the place with no evidence that it will lead to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. These kinds of decisions are dangerous, because I believe that it will make people take these social distancing protocols less seriously and lead people to congregate. To paraphrase a common saying: “when everything’s against the law, nothing’s against the law.”