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Coronavirus: B.C. banquet halls say they are hosting events responsibly

Click to play video 'Public health officers to spot check B.C. banquet hall events this weekend' Public health officers to spot check B.C. banquet hall events this weekend
Public health officers to spot check B.C. banquet hall events this weekend

With the numbers of COVID-19 cases in B.C. continuing to climb in recent weeks, health officials are warning there could be a crackdown on private parties at banquet halls this weekend.

B.C. has seen some community outbreaks due to private events not following proper health guidelines, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.

But two B.C. banquet halls currently operating say they welcome health officials to come by and make sure they are operating safely.

At the Crown Palace Banquet Hall in Surrey, owner Sukh Mann told Global News they are still holding events for 50 people and sometimes up to 200 people because they have the space to make sure everyone is adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Click to play video 'B.C. health minister warns of ‘consequences’ for private parties, banquet halls not following COVID measures' B.C. health minister warns of ‘consequences’ for private parties, banquet halls not following COVID measures
B.C. health minister warns of ‘consequences’ for private parties, banquet halls not following COVID measures

“Fifty people in one room so if you have 50 people in one room, you can have 50 people in another room and 50 people in another room,” Mann said.

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“The rooms that they are in are totally sealed off so… if you have 50 people on one side they will have no access to the other guests and they have their own bathrooms, they have their own buffet area, and basically, that’s it.”

Mann said they also have their own entrances and exits.

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There is still a maximum of six guests at each table and attendees stay with their family group. Mann said the contact name and number of one person per family is also recorded for possible contact tracing.

“They are not allowed to get up and get food themselves, or drinks, what they do is they have a table number… and then a card indicating if they want something and then a server comes to you and asks you what you would like to eat or drink and then that is served to you.”

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Why B.C. health officials are so reliant on testing, contract tracing and self- isolation right now.

Read more: ‘This is a warning’: Dix pledges crackdown on parties amid surging coronavirus numbers

At Riverside Banquet Halls in Richmond, organizers are following similar rules although food and beverage manager Micheal Ghirra told Global News they don’t host gatherings of more than 50 people because they don’t have any dividers they can use to section parts off.

“We’re following the restaurant policies that are laid out,” he said, including providing hand sanitizer, spacing out tables, recording numbers for contact tracing, and having servers bring food and drinks directly to the patrons.

“So far it’s been working, it’s been working well with our group here in Richmond,” Ghirra added.

Anyone breaking any orders put in place by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry could face a fine of up to $25,000 and a jail term of up to six months, under the B.C. Health Act.

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Mann said he welcomes a visit from an environmental health officer.

“It’s within their right to check out health facilities and if we’re breaking any rules, it’s their right to take action,” he said.

While there have been some recent exposures at bars and nightclubs in Vancouver, Dix and Henry say there is no plan at this time to shut anyone down.

“I can’t say for every banquet hall operator and what they’re doing — they’re following the rules, they’re not following the rules, but us as a team here, we’re 100 per cent following the rules. Public safety is the most important thing to us right now,” Ghirra said.