November 08, 2020

Dear ABLE BC members and industry colleagues,

This Saturday, BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued new orders for the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. The order is restricted to these two regions.

The order came into force Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. and will continue through to Monday, Nov. 23, 2020 at noon. The orders impact social gatherings, group physical activities, and workplace safety.

Social gatherings

  • There are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household. This includes gatherings of fewer than 50 people. People who live alone must host no gatherings, but can continue to see members of their pandemic bubble at home.
  • Funerals and weddings may proceed with your immediate household, but there are to be no associated receptions inside or outside your home, or at any public or community-based venue.
  • Party buses and group limousines operating in these regions are ordered to stop operating (this order remains in effect until further notice).

Group physical activities

  • Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate indoor group physical activities must stop these activities until updated COVID-19 safety plans that have been approved by the local medical health officer are in place.
  • This includes: spin classes, group fitness, dance classes, or any other indoor group physical activity.
  • Indoor sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained are suspended for two weeks but can be replaced by individual exercise or practice by reducing the number of people and ensuring everyone maintains a safe physical distance.
  • All travel for sports, into or out of these regions, is suspended.

Workplace safety

  • All businesses and worksites must conduct active daily screening of all on-site workers using their COVID-19 safety plans.
  • Workplaces must ensure that all workers and customers maintain enough physical distance, wear masks where appropriate, and be especially vigilant in small office spaces, break rooms, and kitchens.

How this order impacts your business

Since Saturday, there have been confusing and conflicting reports in some media about how this order impacts your business. I know many of you are wondering whether you are expected to define or enforce the restriction around “immediate family.” We are working to gain clarity on these and other issues.

In the meantime, we DO NOT interpret this order as obliging licensees to control with whom your patrons socialize. Your obligation remains controlling the behaviour of patrons in your business; not to dictate their social circles.

Please follow the Oct. 9th Public Health Order, which outlines your responsibilities to control patron behaviour (i.e. group sizes of no more than six, social distancing of at least two metres, contract tracing, and ensuring patrons remain seated at all times).

Dr. Henry was careful to note that our industry’s current safety protocols are working. She asked that all businesses redouble their efforts to ensure all workers and customers are adhering to your COVID-19 Safety Plans.

It is likely this new order will lead to increased Public Health inspections in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. If you operate a business in these regions, it is imperative that you review and comply with the existing safety standards. 

Although these new orders are not aimed at our industry, I share your frustration that they risk undermining public confidence in BC’s hospitality industry. This weekend, I have been working with our industry partners in several media interviews to state clearly that it remains safe to visit your local pubs and bars. 

I know how hard you’re working to keep your staff and patrons safe. I know you’re frustrated to see additional public health restrictions, especially when you’ve worked so hard to make ends meet over the past several months. But over the next two weeks especially, we must all work relentlessly to ensure safely protocols are followed. 

Please keep up your great work. Rest assured the team at ABLE BC will continue to do everything we can to help our industry get through this. 

Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions: In the meantime, stay safe and sane out there.

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