A growing number of Metro Vancouver municipalities are closing all recreation centres, ice rinks, pools and libraries starting Monday in order to “minimize the risk of transmission” of the novel coronavirus.
The City of Vancouver has announced the closure of most civic facilities, including libraries and community centres.
The City of Surrey said recreation centres, ice arenas, culture facilities, pools and libraries will be closed until further notice.
“Given the ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19, I am taking a proactive approach to ensure the health and safety of our residents,” Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said in a statement.
“The decision to close our public recreation facilities is being done in the best interests of public health.”
Full refunds will be provided to those who have registered for activities at Surrey public facilities, and library due dates will be suspended during the closures, the city said.
Spring break camps and childcare programs will still go ahead as planned, however — many of them taking place within those same recreation facilities.
The city said “enhanced preventative measures” will be in place at those camps and programs to reduce the risk of transmission, adhering to public health guidelines.
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The decision to stay open was based on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s recommendation from late February that schools and childcare programs do not have to close.
Later Sunday, Delta Mayor George Harvie issued a similar notice, saying that city’s recreation centres, community centres, ice arenas, swimming pools, arts centres, archives and seniors centres will close starting Monday. The seniors’ bus service will also be suspended.
City Hall will remain open, Harvie said in an email, and all registered spring break programs will go ahead.
On Monday, the City of Port Coquitlam announced it is closing community facilities including the Port Coquitlam Community Centre, Hyde Creek Centre, Terry Fox Library, Outlet and Gathering Place. City Hall and The Annex will remain open with limited service.
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Spring break camps will proceed with new measures, such as social distancing and enhanced cleaning, to reduce risk to participants.
Cities across B.C. have been scrambling to adhere to provincial directives from late last week to limit public gatherings to 250 people, leading to the cancellations of several events. On Monday, the province extended the ban on mass gatherings to groups of more than 50 people.
McCallum echoed provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice from Friday that people should still enjoy outdoor activities and public areas, while following her directive.
“I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this spell of good weather to get outside, get some fresh air and stay active,” the mayor said.
“Making the time to go for a walk, run or a bike ride in our parks and beaches two to three times a day is something I highly recommend.”
— With files from Jon Azpiri and Simon Little