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City of Vancouver closes most civic facilities, including libraries and community centres

COVID-19 outbreak forces widespread recreational closures across Metro Vancouver
WATCH: COVID-19 outbreak forces widespread recreational closures across Metro Vancouver

The City of Vancouver announced on Monday the closure of most civic facilities and the suspension of non-essential programs to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, following other municipalities such as Surrey and Port Coquitlam.

B.C. health officials report 30 new cases of coronavirus, 3 deaths
B.C. health officials report 30 new cases of coronavirus, 3 deaths

Among the facilities to close are public libraries, community centres, public pools, fitness centres, ice rinks, civic theatres and public golf courses.

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Park Board day camps and licensed childcare will continue.

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Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation general manager Malcolm Bromley says “field houses and change room facilities at sports locations will be closed, but the fields will be remaining open for public use on a casual basis during this March break.”

Public washrooms in parks will remain open, Bromley said, and cleaning protocols have been increased.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on response to coronavirus outbreak
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on response to coronavirus outbreak

Bromley went on to say a “flexible” refund policy is in place for anyone who paid for a program or permit affected by the closures.

The food, shelter and hygiene programs at the Carnegie and Evelyn Saller community centres and The Gathering Place will remain open.

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All Vancouver Public Library branches will be closed as of Monday afternoon.

“We encourage anyone with materials out on loan right now to keep them for now,” chief librarian Christina de Castell said. “All late fees will be suspended and all due dates will be extended.”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart urged residents to “think twice” before visiting bars and restaurants, noting that patrons need to practise social distancing if they decide to go out.

“If you don’t think you can keep one metre or more away from others in your favourite bar, don’t go,” he said. “If you don’t think you can keep one metre or more away from others in your favourite restaurant, don’t go.”

Several other municipalities in Metro Vancouver have announced closures of facilities.