In a COVID-19 press briefing this afternoon, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart has asked residents to not frequent local bars and restaurants if they can’t maintain a safe social distance.
“Social distancing means keeping at least one metre between you and other people when out in public,” said Stewart. “That’s why, today, I am asking all residents to think twice about whether they need to go out into public to visit bars and restaurants."
He acknowledges that it’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, a popular occasion for going out and celebrating with food and drink.
“I know tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, but if you don’t think you can keep one metre or more in your favourite bar, don’t go,” he emphasized in front of press. “If you don’t think you can keep one metre or more in your favourite restaurant, don’t go.”
Instead of visiting local dining spots and watering holes, Stewart encourages the public to support local restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery.
The mayor also stressed that business owners should take further health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For business owners, I’m urging you to take all necessary steps to ensure patrons can remain one metre or more from one another,” he said. “If you cannot do this, I would ask you to limit your establishment’s capacity.
“I know this is going to mean financial hardship for many small businesses and workers. I’m working hard to make sure we get as many supports in place form senior levels of government as much as possible,” added Stewart. “But for now, our top priority must be to stop transmission and flatten the curve.”
He also asked all grocery stores to do their best and reserving early opening hours for seniors and those with compromised immune systems.
These new COVID-19 remarks from Vancouver’s mayor come after B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix restricted the maximum size of public gatherings to 50 people.
Henry also said in a press conference this morning that restaurants and cafes could look at takeaway services as a way of modifying their businesses at this time.
“It is very much challenging. I know it’s going to be hard on businesses and hard on people. I know it’s going to be challenging not being able to congregate and have being able to have those special moments together,” said Henry.
She encouraged people not to go and congregate and have those major events, likely alluding to eating out at restaurants, because many dining establishments can accommodate more than 50 guests.
“Right now, we need to take these extra precautions,” she added. “But those are things we feel are important right now to get us through this next period of time. We will be re-evaluating and reassessing and getting things going as soon as we can.”