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Okanagan houseboat operator temporarily ceases operations following party caught on video

Click to play video: 'Houseboat operator must develop COVID safety plan before resuming operations following party that broke public health orders' Houseboat operator must develop COVID safety plan before resuming operations following party that broke public health orders
A houseboat party that broke public health orders in Kelowna has led to the company temporarily shutting down operations. But despite video evidence, it doesn't look like any fines will be issued. Klaudia Van Emmerik reports – Apr 8, 2021

A houseboat operator in Kelowna has voluntarily ceased operations for three weeks, according to Interior Health.

On Saturday evening, a houseboat operated by Kelowna Cruises was caught on camera pulling into a downtown Kelowna dock with what appeared to be at least 20 people.

“The operator voluntarily ceased operations for three weeks and will not be re-starting operations until the environmental health officer approves their new COVID safety plan,” Interior Health said in an e-mail to Global News.

Read more: Kelowna party boat still cruising despite B.C.’s heightened ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions

While the exact number of party-goers isn’t known, the regional health authority said it was too many.

“The operator had too many patrons on the boat and allowed patrons to be out of their seats and mingling,” said IHA.

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Speaking at her regular Thursday briefing, Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are strict guidelines in place for party boats.

Click to play video: 'Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. houseboat COVID-19 restrictions remain the same' Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. houseboat COVID-19 restrictions remain the same
Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. houseboat COVID-19 restrictions remain the same – Apr 8, 2021

“We cannot be having this type of event right now,” Henry said.

“We have an order that restricts vacation rentals and vacation accommodations, and houseboats fall into that, from having people partying, from having gatherings in those settings and we have enhanced those orders recently.”

Global News reached out to Kelowna Cruises for comment, but has yet to receive a reply.

Notably, in a Facebook post from August 2020, Kelowna Cruises stated that the safety of its passengers and crew was of utmost importance.

The post went on to say that throughout the 2020 season, it had been proactive regarding COVID-19 policies and procedures, and that it has corresponded regularly with Interior Health and the B.C Centre for Disease Control as to how to operate safely.

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Henry said fines continued to be issued to those not adhering to public health orders.

Read more: B.C. to more than double COVID-19 fines for attending social gatherings

“There are fines for not only the people organizing these and the businesses that are allowing this to happen, but also for people who are attending in contravention of the orders,” she said.

But in this case, it doesn’t appear the operator will be slapped with any fines.

“At this time, no tickets or further enforcement is being considered,” IHA said in its email statement.

Kelowna Cruises has until April 24 to develop a safety plan, which has to be approved by IHA before the company can resume operations.

Click to play video: 'New orders for houseboats and rental properties will fall on owners' New orders for houseboats and rental properties will fall on owners
New orders for houseboats and rental properties will fall on owners – Jul 23, 2020

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