COVID-19 in B.C.: New health guidelines for nightlife, as three Metro Vancouver restaurants confirm cases

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      While B.C.’s curve has begun to turn upwards, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned that the Okanagan outbreak may result in some changes to travel guidelines at today's B.C. COVID-19 update with Health Minister Adrian Dix.

      While Dr. Henry urged people to continue practising health measures, she also announced new amendments for nightclubs and bars.

      The changes arrive in the wake of a few restaurants across Metro Vancouver discovering COVID-19 cases at their locations.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Metro Vancouver restaurants with cases

      After several restaurants in the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in B.C. have had COVID-19 cases at their locations, many informed the public, voluntarily closed, and conducted sanitization or cleaning of their premises.

      Three workers at Earls on Shaughnessy Street in Port Coquitlam, who were at the location from July 15 to 17, tested positive, according to CBC News. Although Fraser Health permitted the restaurant to reopen, the company decided to temporarily close the location for sanitization as a precaution.

      A staff member at Browns Socialhouse in Port Moody’s Newport Village also tested positive for the coronavirus and was at the location on July 16 and 18, according to the Tri-City News

      After being informed about the positive case, the restaurant temporarily shut down for cleaning on July 19. Fraser Health approved them for reopening on July 20.

      CTV News also reported that a customer who tested positive for COVID-19 dined at Chewie’s Oyster Bar in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood on July 12. According to a social-media post by the restaurant, staff who were in direct contact with the diner are self-quarantining as a precautionary measure. 

      Anyone who was at these location on the indicated dates should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days from the date of visit and limit contact with others.

      Dr. Henry and Dix had commended businesses for taking measures to be proactive.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Nightlife amendments

      In recent weeks, several COVID-19 exposure events have taken place at Vancouver nightlife venues, including Brandi’s Exotic Show Lounge, the No. 5 Orange, and Hotel Belmont. Outbreaks have taken place in other Canadian cities, such as Montreal, raising concerns about nightclubs and bars.

      With cases on the rise in Vancouver, Dr. Henry said at today’s B.C. COVID-19 update that they now need to make some changes.

      Dr. Henry said that they are amending provincial health orders for nightlife businesses.

      “We’re putting in some additional measures for the people who own and manage those nightclubs to ensure that those safe distancing, those measures are in place, that people aren’t bending and disobeying those rules,” she said, "particularly after they’ve had a few drinks and it’s late at night."

      According to the changes, all patrons must be seated at designated seats, self-service liquor isn’t permitted (such as patrons ordering from the bar), and dance floors also aren’t allowed.

      Measures must be in place to reduce lineups, gatherings, and areas of congestion.

      Changes in requirements for events and entertainment at these venues will be posted online, such as physical barriers for karaoke, and she said they are looking at limiting hours for events.

      For food establishments, Dr. Henry reminded people to limit the number of people in their groups.

      “If you’re going out for dinner, don’t ask the servers to accommodate more than six people.” she said. “Six people is what is restricted under our WorkSafe guidance and public-health orders.”

      She added that people also shouldn’t be table-hopping and that groups can’t skirt rules (or ask restaurants to do so) by having one large group divided among several tables (with socializing between them).

      She emphasized that these health measures will protect both diners and staff.

      “We need everybody to be aware that these are risky times, and it jeopardizes a lot of what we’ve accomplished and where we have been,” she said.

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