COVID-19 in Vancouver: Robson Street shops board up amid crime spike as West End goes all out with healthcare cheer

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      Anyone walking down Robson Street who didn’t know what was going on (and who should really be at home) might think the city was preparing for a hurricane—or recovering from yet another out-of-control hockey riot.

      However, what is taking place in one of the city’s highest-profile shopping districts is in reaction to offshoot problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

      On March 26, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) reported that despite an overall decrease in calls to police since pandemic measures were implemented, a spike in break-ins have been taking place in the Downtown Vancouver area.

      The property crime targeting businesses has increased as pandemic advisories have reduced both pedestrian and street traffic due to recommendations to remain at home, as well as the shift of eateries to takeout-only and the closures of nightlife, movie theatres, and event venues. 

      The VPD offered several suggestions on what businesses could do to improve security, such as reducing visibility of merchandise.

      Some shops have done so by removing merchandise from window displays or papering up windows, giving the appearance that they have shut down.

      Other large retailers have taken it a step further.

      Aritzia at Robson Street at Thurlow Street
      Craig Takeuchi

      In addition to other areas of the city, several stores on Robson Street have boarded up their storefronts altogether.

      That includes Lululemon, Banana Republic, Aritzia, Wilfred, Nike, and Plenty.

      Craig Takeuchi

      The VPD is boosting patrols in the area and investigators have launched projects targeting known offenders as police work with business improvement associations.

      Nike and Plenty
      Craig Takeuchi
      Craig Takeuchi

      Meanwhile, not far away, something of a very different nature—or the complete opposite—is taking place.

      While every night at 7 p.m., West Enders take to their balconies, windows, porches, and doors to cheer on and thank healthcare workers for their efforts and expertise in fighting the pandemic and saving lives, things rose to a new level when the Vancouver Fire Department and the VPD got in on the act.

      As residents cheered and made noise, fire crews and police drove their fire trucks and policevehicles with lights flashing and sirens blaring in a parade circling around the block that St. Paul’s Hospital (at 1081 Burrard Street) is located on.

      In addition, the 9 O'Clock Gun in Stanley Park is now firing at 7 p.m. to salute healthcare workers.

      This past week at daily COVID-19 updates from the B.C. government, Health Minister Adrian Dix had mentioned how former healthcare professionals were returning to contribute their efforts to tackling the health crisis.

      On March 23, Dix mentioned that 22 healthcare workers had volunteered to help out at North Vancouver’s hard-hit Lynn Valley Care Centre, which he called “extraordinary”.

      Yesterday, Dix stated that 28 doctors had re-registered over the course of the previous day, in addition to 309 nurses.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook