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PNE/Playland predicts gross loss of $52 million due to COVID-19 shutdown

Chicago performs at the 2017 PNE Summer Nights concert series.
Chicago performs at the 2017 PNE Summer Nights concert series. Pacific National Exhibition

A visit to PNE/Playland is a summer staple for many in B.C., but due to the novel coronavirus this year, the fair gates will remain closed.

As a result, the event is projected to lose up to $52 million in gross revenue, according to spokesperson Laura Ballance, while net revenue losses could reach $10 million depending on when the PNE might resume operation.

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Peek inside the 2020 PNE Prize Home
Peek inside the 2020 PNE Prize Home

In mid-April, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said physical-distancing measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 will remain throughout the summer, and that organizers of large outdoor events should think about alternatives.

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“We do not have enough herd immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen,” Henry said. “Large parades, large mass gatherings where we all come together — those will not be happening this summer.”

That prompted organizers for many events, such as the Celebration of Light fireworks, the Vancouver Pride festival and the Pacific National Exhibition, to cancel or postpone after having held out that there might be a way to continue.

Ballance said PNE organizers hope to access some additional provincial and federal funding, but are not eligible for several key programs.

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Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. health official says large events, gatherings won’t be happening this summer
Coronavirus outbreak: B.C. health official says large events, gatherings won’t be happening this summer

Last month, the federal government introduced a $73-billion wage subsidy program to cover 75 per cent of wages for employers that have seen sharp declines in revenue since the pandemic.

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The program makes up half the roughly $145 billion in federal spending on COVID-19 countermeasures, and will cause a ripple of changes for the millions of workers who have either lost their jobs or had their hours slashed due to the crisis.

-With files from The Canadian Press