COVID-19 in B.C.: Capacity limits lifted for wide range of entertainment, sports, and social events

It will apply to venues where patrons show proof of vaccination under the B.C. Vaccine Card program

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      The arts and entertainment industries have received a much-needed booster shot from the B.C. government.

      On October 25, the province will lift capacity limits in many areas of B.C., including the entire Vancouver Coastal Health region, for many types of indoor organized events and gatherings.

      It will apply to venues where patrons show proof of vaccination under the B.C. Vaccine Card program.

      These changes will permit larger audiences at indoor concerts, theatre events, cinemas, dance shows, and symphony performances.

      In addition, the government said that indoor sporting events, including hockey and basketball games, can have 100-percent capacity audiences. It means the Vancouver Canucks, for example, can play in front of a full house at Rogers Arena for their home opener against Minnesota Wild on October 26.

      Funeral receptions outside of a funeral home, weddings, and organized parties can also be at 100-percent capacity starting on October 25, as long as everyone shows proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

      People will continue to have to wear masks indoors. 

      The only exceptions for the 100-percent requirement are Fraser East and parts of the Northern and Interior health regions, where there are still high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

      Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has maintained a ban on dancing in bars, nightclubs, and banquet halls.

      Artists endure job losses and burnout

      The B.C. government announcement came less than a week after Hills Strategies Research Inc. posted an article on its website detailing the impact of the pandemic on the arts sector.

      It cited a National Arts and Culture Impact Survey of 1,273 artists, which revealed that 62 percent of respondents were experiencing stress or burnout.

      "Our own pre-pandemic research showed that the median income of artists was 44% lower than all Canadian workers in 2016," the article noted. "Cultural workers have median incomes that are closer to the Canadian norm (6% less than all workers). During the pandemic, artists and arts workers lost many opportunities—a per-person average of 36 opportunities and $25,000, according to a survey of about 1,000 arts workers by I Lost My Gig Canada."

      Statistics Canada has previously reported that one in four workers in arts, entertainment, and recreation lost their jobs in 2020. Employment in this sector declined from 450,500 workers in 2019 to just 336,100 in 2020.

      The subsector of performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries experienced a 22.3 percent loss in employment. The amusement, gambling, and recreation subsector saw a 28.5-percent drop in 2020.

      B.C. COVID-19 statistics

      On October 19, the B.C. government revealed that there were 560 new cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours. There are 4,913 active cases across the province.

      Of those, 382 are in hospital and 146 are in intensive care. Five more people have died from the virus, lifting the provincial total to 2,086. Two of the deaths occurred in Fraser Health, another two in Northern Health, and one was in Island Health.

      There are 23 outbreaks in health-care facilities, including a new one at The Emerald at Elm Village in Fraser Health.

      Across B.C., 83.5 percent of eligible people 12 years of age and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 89.2 percent have had one dose.