B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speak at a press conference regarding COVID-19. The province has banned all public events of 250 people or more, a situation that has forced the cancellation or postponement of performances at all of Victoria’s main entertainment venues. (B.C. government)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speak at a press conference regarding COVID-19. The province has banned all public events of 250 people or more, a situation that has forced the cancellation or postponement of performances at all of Victoria’s main entertainment venues. (B.C. government)

COVID-19: Province bans large gatherings in B.C.; Victoria sports, entertainment venues affected

Health officials take new measures to combat spread of novel coronavirus

The B.C. government has placed a ban on all events with more than 250 people amid growing concerns around the spread of COVID-19.

“We have to do our best to slow transmissions here in British Columbia,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during a daily briefing about the coronavirus on Thursday. The news came as the province confirmed seven more people infected with the novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total to 53 cases and one death.

“We are looking at event organizers – whether it’s community events, whether it’s large events – to look at alternatives they can use to keep that connectedness and social cohesiveness,” Henry said.

The Civic Orchestra of Victoria has cancelled its March 14 performance after Thursday’s announcement by the province.

The move has forced cancellation of numerous arts, entertainment and sporting events in Greater Victoria, effectively immediately.

The Royal and McPherson Theatre Society, operators of two of the city’s largest performance venues, posted an announcement on its website Thursday night informing patrons that both its theatres were closed to the public until further notice. It stated that ticket holders would be contacted in the coming days about their options. Similar themed notices from other community arts groups, from theatres to musical groups, followed in the hours after the provincial announcement.

Ticket holders for any event scheduled for the coming days and weeks in a facility that holds 250 or more people is advised to check the venue’s website or call them for up to date information.

RELATED STORY: Capital City Comic Con postponed due to COVID-19

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a pandemic. Since then, major sports organizations, such as the NHL and NBA, have postponed games until further notice. Larger events, including the TC10K, Vancouver Auto Show and Vancouver Sun Run have also been cancelled.

B.C. health officials are also recommending people don’t travel outside Canada.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that B.C. residents have a choice whether they want to risk going to the U.S. or another country, but if they do they should expect to be in isolation for 14 days when they return.

“The situation is just too risky right now,” Henry told reporters.

READ ALSO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancelled amid COVID-19 outbreak


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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